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Palestinian Youth in Lebanon
By: Palestinian Democratic Youth Union
August 4, 2017

Many studies and statistics indicate that half of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are under the age of 25, while the proportion of those in the 25-29 years old exceeds one-third of the population according to the latest estimates and surveys.

Depending on this rule, the Palestinian youth in Lebanon, have been and continue to be the most affected by the difficult reality and conditions, experienced by the refugees in Lebanon, who have been subjected since the beginning of resorting, to all forms of economic and social oppression and marginalization, due to the restrictions imposed on them, by the Lebanese state. These refugees were also subjected to shocks and wars experienced by the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

The recent study by the American University of Beirut, in cooperation with UNRWA, on the economic and social situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon (2016), showed that poverty rates among them reached 65%. It also showed that the youngest of these refugees are the poorest, as 74% of them are under the poverty line.

The problem of deprivation of the right to work, due to Lebanese laws, is one of the most important problems faced by youth and university graduates of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, as several studies and statistics showed that more than 50% of Palestinian university graduates in Lebanon, have not moved to the labor market despite graduating since more than two years. Those who have been able to move to the labor market, did not exceed 10%, while 3.7% of refugee youth have moved to temporary employment or to work for their own account.

In addition to the problem of unemployment and the deprivation of the right to work, there is the issue of education at various levels, as UNRWA's education program suffers from many problems, which have increased over the past year, due to UNRWA's reducing policy. UNRWA operates 69 primary, preparatory and secondary schools in Lebanon, in which approximately 32,500 students are enrolled; UNRWA also runs two vocational training centers in Siblin and Tripoli, which are attended by about 1,100 students.

The educational program in UNRWA has been subjected to several crises due to the reducing policy, which included integrating some schools, increasing the number of students in the class to 50 students, stopping employment, continuing the policy of automatic promotion, the high dropout rate in UNRWA schools (9%), the absence of practical strategic plan to develop the educational situation, as well as a decline in the academic level of vocational education centers. In addition to this, the UNRWA administration has begun to apply the so-called "neutrality", a policy that has negative repercussions that significantly affect the content, and role of the UNRWA as an organization, as well as its negative impact on the activity and national role of students and employees, by isolating them from their national cause in a blatant collusion with Israeli and American pressures.

This is in addition to the worsening of crisis of university education for the Palestinians, who have reached 6,350 students; about 65% of them attend private Lebanese universities and 35% in the Lebanese State University. The fees in private universities record remarkable rising in all their colleges, under the reducing policy of Mahmoud Abbas' Foundation's Fund , "where its administration has put many conditions to reduce the number of beneficiaries of the Fund's assistance until it reached 170 students, for the current year, out of 1650 students who applied and succeeded in high school.

These problems have led to the emergence of many problems among the Palestinian youth, as the problems of unemployment and school dropout have been reflected in a state of frustration that has affected the social and economic reality of the Palestinian youth. Therefore, the phenomenon of social pests has increased among young people, as there were previously, some social lesions such as addiction, for example, those who are over the age of 20 years, but now it is significantly extending to reach children younger than 16 years.

This reality has made Palestinian youth in Lebanon, in a state of concern for their future. So, thinking about how to get out of this painful reality becomes the biggest concern among them. This led to a large number of young people, who are thinking about immigration, especially to European countries, as in Arab states' doors are closed in the face of Palestinian refugee, as a result, the past period has witnessed an increasing number of young Palestinian migrants through an "illegal" way that threatened the lives of many of them, who are university students and have scientific qualifications. Perhaps the deprivation from the right of work and the high percentage of unemployment among the youth are the main factor and impetus for immigration, which their continuation form a major danger to the youth and to the refugee community and their struggle for return.

The question that arises strongly today, what brought the Palestinian youth to this reality ?, Why did things reach such an extent in which young Palestinians feel that their future are threatened, and the doors locked in their faces ? Is this situation a result of a deliberate policy aimed at striking the main nerve of Palestinian refugees, depending on the political targeting of the right of return? The most important question that is on our agenda, and at the heart of our concern and mission, is how to confront these challenges and promote the reality of Palestinian youth?

All indications and data confirm that what is suffered by Palestinian youth in Lebanon is done according to a prior scheme, as anyone who examines all the surrounding policies, related to the refugee issue, realizes that what is happening, is the result of systematic planning, that aims at reaching our youth to the point of despair and frustration in order to strike the social structure of refugees, and to weaken the nerve that affects their lives, which is the youth. This comes in the context of the project that aims at striking the refugees' struggle and weakening their strength and the cohesion of their society, in order to impose the political eliminating conditions of the issue of right of return. In this framework alone, we understand the continuous pressure , the deprivation of rights, the reduction of UNRWA services and the spread of phenomenon of social pests and the migration of young people, all of which end up with the project of beating, fragmenting and weakening the Palestinian refugee society (especially youth) in Lebanon.

At the political level, there is no doubt that the closure of political horizon and the stumbling of Palestinian national project and the absence of the role of Palestinian national institutions, in addition to the continuation of the political division, have contributed in the weakening of mobilization of the Palestinians and their youth energies, in terms of their active involvement in the national struggle process in its various forms and titles. The political crisis has its negative effects on the situation of Palestinian youth, especially with the growing phenomenon of political Islam embracing many groups and fundamentalist currents, along with some political parties - disguised with social titles - which pay great interests to the youth and exploit the weakness of knowledge of new generation in the Palestinian national movement , and they use the Palestinian issue as a magnet to tickle the feelings of young people, in addition to the attempt to spread through offering young people financial temptations or through publicizing ideas that exploit the state of frustration and despair caused by the spread of unemployment and the deterioration of both living and economic levels.

So, addressing these complex data and the total challenges facing the Palestinian youth on the economic, social and political levels, dictate the need to stop dealing with the youth in an improper way. Here, the youth have the task of grabbing their rights and restoring confidence in themselves and their abilities. Then, they will move from the status of torpor that is imposed on them to the status of initiative, action and main pivotal influence in the Palestinian liberation struggle for their right to participate in the community and in the building and development of their institutions, and to find solutions to their multiple problems so that they can take their role at all levels.


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