Some speakers touched upon the issue of Palestinian refugees and appealed to the international community to support Lebanon to solve this problem.
WILLIAM HABIB, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon, said Lebanon was one of the countries that had created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and had made every effort to deal with these issues. The slow pace of progress in some areas was due to insufficient resources or political difficulties. Lebanon could not solve the Palestinian problem alone and called on the international community to shoulder this burden with them.
AHMED IHAB GAMALELDIN (Egypt) said
Egypt recognised the difficulties of Lebanon on the issue of Palestinian refugees, particularly in light of limited resources. Egypt appealed to the international community to support Lebanon on this particular issue and to continue the efforts to solve the problem of Palestinian refugees.
MARWAN AL-SHAMI (Yemen) said
The rights of Palestinian refugees must be guaranteed, together with their fundamental freedoms, said Yemen.
ROLA BARDAN, of Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, said it was concerned that the commitments to improve the situation of Palestinian refugees had not been accompanied by a clear action plan and concrete implementation. There was a continuous disregard of the right to freedom of movement, accompanied by various levels of military interference, which led to the long-term neglect, exclusion and marginalization of Palestinian refugees. The Law on Property Ownership was amended in 2001 and now excluded solely Palestinians from the right to own property. The Lebanese Government had a clear obligation to ensure all individuals, including Palestinians, residing within its territory were afforded full equality and guaranteed their rights.
DANIELA MACCIONI, of Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco, said there were still weaknesses in the education sector in Lebanon and they encouraged the Government to adopt the draft law to bring the level of secondary education up to 15 years. The International Institute was concerned about Palestinian children’s access to state education as only 20 per cent of Palestinian children had access to the state education system. Palestinians should be granted access to jobs and children access to education.
PHILIPPE DAM, of Human Rights Watch, said it wished that the Universal Periodic Review had reflected the concern about the situation of foreign detainees in Lebanon’s prisons, who finished serving their sentences but still remained held without legal basis. Lebanon had adopted the law enabling Palestinian refugees to find work and Human Rights Watch urged the Government to continue the efforts to ensure full respect for the rights of Palestinian refugees.
MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International,
Amnesty International was disappointed that the Government had rejected a number of recommendations aimed at amending the discriminatory laws and regulations relating to nationality, to the right to own property, and to education and employment that affected over 420,000 Palestinian refugees registered in Lebanon.
WILLIAM HABIB, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon, in concluding remarks,
Concerning the Palestinian refugees, Lebanon said that they enjoyed full freedom of movement; the checkpoints for access to the camps had been set up because certain persons that had committed violations might take refuge in those camps to flee prosecution. They were entitled to carry out a number of jobs available on the Lebanese job market; those who did not have identity cards were given one, so that they could finally send their children to school.