Weekly News Report: December 13-19, 2021

التقارير الإخبارية الأسبوعية 2021

Protest against Defunding UNRWA Photo from Palestinian Refugee Portal

Articles and views shared in the Weekly News Report do not necessarily represent ARM’s views. Information in these articles has not been fact-checked by ARM and may contain some errors. ARM is simply compiling all news relevant to migrant communities to inform our advocacy efforts and to facilitate the work of organizations who cater to migrant communities.

Maronite League to Submit Appeal to Stop MoL’s Decision [here]

The Maronite League in Lebanon will submit an appeal to the Council of State (Shoura Council) to request blocking the decision of the Minister of Labor which was announced on December 8 and entails exceptions to allow non-Lebanese residents to work in many sectors.

The head of the League and former Member of Parliament Nehmetallah Abi Nasr had denounced the decision last week and raised concerns of naturalization, on par with other other political groups adopting the same racist discourse.

Former Labor Minister Denounces Bayram’s Decision [here]

In an interview with Aliwaa newspaper, former Minister of Labor Sejaan Azzi, also a member of the Kataeb party, denounced the decision of current Minister Bayram on the false basis of violating the Labor Law and the constitution as well as harming Lebanese workers. He also described the decision as politically motivated without further explanation.

The article emphasized the common concern of demographic change in Lebanon which is often used to warn against giving Palestinians their rights.

Azzi stated that the decision would have “nationwide risks” and insisted that those should precede any humanitarian consideration given the ongoing crisis. He also raised concerns about the possibility of people coming from Syria to benefit from this decision; which is not realistic given that the exceptions in the decision apply to children and husbands of Lebanese women, stateless people and Palestinians.

On the other hand, Bayram told Aliwaa that his decision does not violate the Labor Law and does prioritize Lebanese workers while giving exceptions to the non-Lebanese.

The article refers to Syrians as emigrants as opposed to refugees, and refers to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as the United Nations High Commissioner for Syrian Emigrants.

The Palestinian-Lebanese Dialogue Committee explained that this annual decisions is made by considering the changes and needs in the labor market, especially with the mass emigration of Lebanese people this year.

UNRWA to Cancel Rent Support for Syrian Palestinians in Lebanon [here]

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced on December 15 that it would stop paying the monthly rent support of $100 for Palestinians that came to Lebanon from Syria. The decision will be effective January 1, 2022 due to lack of sufficient funding following the cuts from big donors in the past years. 

The rent support is set to be replaced by an amount of $25 per person once the agency secures funding sources, in addition to $125 per family only twice a year. For context, 85% of the 27,000 Syrian Palestinians in Lebanon are dependent on aid from UNRWA as a main source of income.

UN on International Migrants Day: “Migrant Workers still at Great Risk despite Key Role in Global Economy” [here]

The United Nations released a statement for International Migrants Day on December 18 emphasizing the challenges preventing the protection of migrant workers worldwide since the start of the pandemic, and stressing their role in the global economy since most migrants occupy essential jobs that are often severely underpaid. The following points were highlighted:

  • The number of migrants globally has tripled in the past 10 years; number of migrant workers nearly reached 170 million in comparison to 53 million in 2010;

  • Remittances to migrants’ home countries outpaced foreign aid, and  made up more than 25 per cent of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in several countries, including Lebanon;

  • Migrant workers amount to 5% of the world’s workforce;

  • Legal risks and obstacles remain the most common challenges that migrants face when attempting to seek better opportunities outside of their country of origin, especially with the limited options for legal and safe migration.

New Study Reveals Bangladeshi Migrants Have Lost $2,000 on Average During the Pandemic after Returning Home [here]

A new study by the Welfare Association for the Rights of Bangladeshi Immigrants (WARBE) has revealed that each Bangladeshi migrant worker returned to their country has lost 2,000 USD on average during the onset of the pandemic. The study was conducted between August 2020 until December 2021, surveyed around 300 cases -which amounts to $600,000 and does not include the rest of the Bangladeshi migrants that were not surveyed– and found that most returned migrants were forcefully evacuated back to their country with the start of the pandemic without receiving their due salaries which they are owed from March 2020. 

The cases include Bangladeshi migrants who worked in Lebanon and were evacuated over the past year and a half, many of whom reported wage theft.

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