Syrians who obtain work permits in Lebanon risk losing refugee aid

The Daily Star

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Non Palestinian refugees and Migrants

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Labor Minister Mohammad Kabbara Monday agreed with the UNHCR to grant Syrian refugees in Lebanon work permits in three sectors, although recipients would no longer be eligible to receive aid. The agreement says that Syrians can obtain work permits in environment, construction and agriculture sectors in accordance with the law. However, the deal states that Syrians who obtain work permits would no longer be able to receive aid as refugees. The National News Agency reported that the agreement was made on Monday during a meeting between Kabbara and UNHCR's Representative in Lebanon Mireille Girard. Inspection teams would also intensify their work in cooperation with UNHCR, the agreement says. The Labor Ministry launched a campaign in January to organize foreign employment in the country. Lebanese authorities have been pushing for tighter regulations on Syrian labor in the country, warning that the mass influx of workers could lead to higher rates of unemployment among the Lebanese population. Lebanon’s economy and infrastructure have been heavily impacted by the Syrian conflict and the resulting surge of refugees. There are currently 1.1 million Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon with the U.N. refugee agency, although the Lebanese government estimates the figure to be around 1.5 million. Refugees and foreign workers tend to accept significantly lower wages than Lebanese citizens. Social tensions have already risen in the past few months, leading at times to clashes between the local and the Syrian refugee population, particularly in north and east Lebanon.

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