SIDON, Lebanon: Sidon’s Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp opened its entrances Saturday, following nearly two weeks of strikes protesting the Labor Ministry's crackdown on undocumented foreign labor.
Small trucks loaded with food products, vegetables, fuel and other wares entered Ain al-Hilweh, Lebanon’s largest Palestinian camp by population, which resumed its normal activities after all of its shops had closed as part of the protests.
The camp’s main northern and southern entrances and two of its eastern entrances were opened. Cars were allowed to enter and leave Ain al-Hilweh between 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Since the strikes began, protesters at Ain al-Hilweh had blocked the camp’s entrances, preventing residents from leaving and food products from entering.
The entrances to Sidon’s Mieh Mieh camp were also opened Saturday.
Palestinians across all 12 of Lebanon’s refugee camps have protested in the past two weeks against a Labor Ministry crackdown on foreign labor.
Labor Minister Camille Abousleiman has insisted that the operation, which has seen inspectors close down and issue fines to a number of businesses, is simply implementing the existing labor law that requires foreign workers to obtain work permits.
However, Palestinians have argued that the campaign unfairly targets them, since many of them do not possess the requisite documents to obtain a labor permit and who, unlike other migrant workers, are refugees and do not have a homeland to return to.
Sources at Ain al-Hilweh said the Joint Palestinian Labor Authority met Friday night and decided to reopen the camp’s entrances, hold a day of Lebanese-Palestinian solidarity Monday and continue demonstrations every Friday until the Labor Ministry ended its crackdown.