SIDON, Lebanon: Residents of the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon Tuesday burned tires at the camp’s entrances for the second straight day to protest the Labor Ministry’s crackdown on undocumented foreign labor.
The demonstrations picked up from Monday, when Palestinian refugees in Ain al-Hilweh as well as the Mieh Mieh camp and the Rashidieh camp in Tyre blocked entrances and burned tires and other items.
On Tuesday, protesters in south Lebanon's refugee camps prevented all residents from leaving, except bakers, nurses and pharmacists. Inside Ain al-Hilweh, multiple demonstrations were being staged against the Labor Ministry.
At a camp in Baalbeck, a number of residents staged a sit-in at the entrance to denounce recent decisions by the Labor Ministry, the state-run National News Agency reported. They also blocked the road leading to the camp and called for Labor Minister Camille Abousleiman to withdraw what they said was his decision "to deprive the Palestinians of the right to work."
Abousleiman last month gave employers a one-month grace period to sort out the legality of non-Lebanese workers. The grace period ended last Tuesday. Since the deadline expired, the ministry has closed dozens of noncompliant shops, and fined others that employed a foreign worker without a work permit.
Abousleiman told The Daily Star Monday that the ministry’s inspectors found a total of 438 violations, only two of which involved a Palestinian.
Abousleiman met Monday with the Palestinian ambassador and the chairman of the Palestinian Dialogue Committee to discuss ways of simplifying the process by which Palestinians obtain a work permit. However, no hard agreement has been reached.