BBC misleads in article on refugees in Lebanon

On April 3rd the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) announced that the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon had passed the one million mark. That news apparently prompted the appearance on the same day of two items on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the topic of Syrian refugees in Lebanon by Julia Macfarlane – one filmed and one written – both of which focus on Syrians now living in Sabra and Shatila. Macfarlane art

Perhaps a function of the choice of location, Macfarlane’s otherwise informative written report ends with a statement likely to mislead BBC audiences.

“As the conflict rages on though, many Syrians living with Palestinian refugees – whose community has now been in Lebanon for more than 60 years – fear they could share the same fate in years to come.”

Of course the reason there are still Palestinian refugees in Sabra, Shatila and the other ten refugee camps in Lebanon is that the Lebanese government adheres to Arab League policy dating from 1959 according to which:

“Arab states will reject the giving of citizenship to applicants of Palestinian origin in order to prevent their integration into the host countries.”

Hence, for well over six decades those refugees have been deliberately kept in that artificial status for purely political reasons, suffering severe discrimination throughout the entire time.

The fears of Syrian refugees with regard to being forced to remain in Lebanon for an extended period of time in refugee status are undoubtedly well-founded. According to the UNHCR:

“Lebanon has not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention, although it has signed most other human rights treaties relevant to the protection of refugees. Constitutionally, the latter take precedence over domestic law but this is rarely observed by the courts, and there is no domestic legislation or administrative practice to address the specific needs of refugees and asylum-seekers.”

However, the political motivations and strategies of the Arab League which have kept Palestinian refugees in that status for so many years do not apply to Syria and refugees under the care of the UNHCR are not entitled to the same hereditary refugee status as those under the authority of the designated agency for Palestinian refugees – UNRWA – and so the two cases are not, as Macfarlane suggests, in any way comparable.  




11 comments on “BBC misleads in article on refugees in Lebanon

  1. These Palestinian refugees have never been allowed to exercise their right to return. Israel has refused to let refugees to back home. This is why they are still in a camp. Over 700,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homes by Israeli forces in 1948, when the State of Israel was created in part of Mandate Palestine.

    • The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, assured the Arab peoples that the occupation of Palestine and Tel Aviv would be as simple as a military promenade,” said Habib Issa in the New York Lebanese paper, Al Hoda (June 8, 1951). “He pointed out that they were already on the frontiers and that all the millions the Jews had spent on land and economic development would be easy booty, for it would be a simple matter to throw Jews into the Mediterranean… Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave their land, homes and property and to stay temporarily in neighboring fraternal states, lest the guns of the invading Arab armies mow them down.

      • Over 1 million Jews were displaced at the same period and have been perfectly integrated in Israel. Arabs siumply do not want to integrate arabs since 1948 to force Israel accept them which is impossible. They dream of destroying Israel it is as simple as that. Fortunately this is impossible but they take advantage of the european booty!

    • Maybe that’s because that “right” is illegitimate and contrary to international conventions. Palestinians are the sole people in the world that inherit refugee status from their parents. That right is as illegitimate as they are as a “people” and the specious arguments made by their obsessive supporters.

  2. A solution needs to be found for Palestine refugees. Hiding one’s head in the sand as the current Israeli right-wing, does will not help and only serves to postpone peace.

    • Emile Ghoury, the Secretary of the Arab Higher Committee:

      It is inconceivable that the refugees should be sent back to their homes while they are occupied by the Jews, as the latter would hold them as hostages and maltreat them. The very proposal is an evasion of responsibility by those responsible. It will serve as a first step towards Arab recognition of the State of Israel and partition.

      Egyptian Foreign Minister Muhammad Salah al-Din:

      It is well-known and understood that the Arabs, in demanding the return of the refugees to Palestine, mean their return as masters of the Homeland and not as slaves. With a greater clarity, they mean the liquidation of the State of Israel (Al-Misri, October 11, 1949).

      A former UNRWA official, Sir Alexander Galloway, in April 1952: “The Arab States do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die.”

      • Who is hiding its head in the sand? surely NOT Israel. Arabs have to accept their “palestinians” they have enough room for them! People like you too as your propaganda will NEVER force Israel to scuttle its nation. Arabs and lefters like you are wasting thei time!

  3. When Israel will expell all fake palestinians from Judea/Samaria/Gaza arabs will understand they will never return to Werstern Palestine and stop their filthy political game and settle their “palestinians”.

  4. Israeloccupies ithis land no one elese’s.Palestine was given to jews along with 21 statees toarabs by the Conference of San Remo(1921) and the Treaty of Sevres(1923) which they accpeted de facto and de jure.Full stop. On top of that article 80 of the un chart spells a new state cannot exist in Palestine. Arabs and their lefter supporters are dreaming if they think Israel will accept a new state! Only that fool netanyahou seems to have accepted it not Israel!

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