Community Security and Access to Justice
Palestinian Camps in Lebanon (Some 450,000 refugees are registered with UNRWA in Lebanon, with many living in the country’s 12 refugee camps), which were already the poorest areas of the country before the Syrian crisis, are hosting about half of the million refugees from Syria. Several recent socio-economic studies have shown that social cohesion in the communities of Palestinian camps in Lebanon has been deeply affected by the Syrian crisis. Almost 90 per cent of PRS in Lebanon are under the poverty line and 95 percent are food insecure. -According to UNRWA.
A recent assessment of community needs conducted by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) and released on July 2014 has indicated that Women from both Lebanese (Including Palestinian refugees in Lebanon) and Syrian communities are among the main victims of the ongoing crisis, and are increasingly resorting to violent and intolerant conducts.
With the continuous influx of over 1.5 million refugees from Syria, the resilience of host communities is stretched to the limit, and Lebanese youth resent refugees for the deterioration of their living conditions.
Having worked with youth and women in nine Palestinian camps across Lebanon, WPA has seen that youth and women from both refugee and host communities, when given the tools to become meaningful actors of change can transform existing dynamics of violence and alienation, For example:
-After a series of training with the Lebanese Association for resisting violence against women (ABAAD-means dimensions in Arabic), a social committee of youth girls was established in the local community and they are currently working with younger girls who may be dropping out of school and conducting awareness sessions and focus groups for them.
Recently, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Lebanon, Ross Mountain, explained that the majority of Lebanon’s Syrian refugees are living in towns and villages that have the highest rate of Lebanese citizens living in poverty. This warning becomes clear when noting that areas in Beqaa are on top of the list of host communities. The region absorbed more than 402,000 refugees since the onset of the crisis. The North, another poor region, came in second place, with more than 287,000 Syrian refugees.
Even in the capital Beirut, most refugees went to the lower-income suburbs. The class distribution was spontaneous as the poor went to the remote and marginalized regions and the rich took up residence in the center of the city.
Class-based distribution, however, could lead to a dangerous impact on areas suffering from historical shortages in health, educational, infrastructure, and resources. These shortages will multiply as the pressure piles up on host communities, which will begin to witness brutal competition over resources among the poor.
Levels of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Violence against Women (VAW) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region are on the increase. Women and Girls in the MENA Region are more susceptible to Domestic Violence (DV), a diverse array of Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV), and a several levels of increased Structural Violence that include forced early (child) marriage, lack of education, unequal and sexist legal frameworks, and sexist/misogynistic social norms perpetuate and justify violence and discrimination against women. Many factors contribute to this harsh reality in the MENA Region. No factor, however, lies more at the root of the problem than conflict and war. Conflict and war have obvious detrimental effects on the possibility and practice of Gender Equality in whatever culture, geographical setting, and time-period that they exist in. Aside from the blatant increase in violence among the warring parties, all forms of GBV and VAW increase in times of conflict and war. Thus, the relationship between war and conflict, and GBV and Gender Discrimination is irrefutable. It is for this reason that there must be much more focus and support for the Women, Peace, and Security. Agenda and all of the international treaties and resolutions that are part of that agenda. An under evaluated aspect of cultures and settings that are affected by war and conflict are the Hyper-Patriarchal values that are part and parcel of the Militarism that exists in those areas. Dominance, violence, obedience, and hierarchal Power-Over dynamics are at the core of both Patriarchy and Militarism. It is the inherent Patriarchy in Militarism that reinforces Patriarchal Masculinities in war-torn countries.
One of the key issues facing Lebanon at present is the impact of the Syria Crisis. In 2011, the Syrian civil war spilled over into Lebanon, causing further incidents of sectarian violence and armed clashes between Sunnis and Alawites. In 2015, the number of registered Syrian refugees living in Lebanon was 1,846,150.4 This does not take into account the numbers of unregistered refugees- Syrian, Palestinian, Iraqi, etc. Accommodating the needs of both the Lebanese and the Syrian refugee population has placed a substantial burden on Lebanon’s resources and infrastructure.
Each crisis that Lebanon has faced since independence has resulted in setting up barriers for achieving gender equality. Considerations for gender equality and human rights are not seen as integral concerns and are pushed back by the decision makers. Religious institutions and a patriarchal culture determine the political and social governance of people.
The Constitutional amendments as specified in the Taif Agreement of 1989 represented an important step for Lebanon in achieving its goal of equality and human rights for all its citizens.34 Lebanon has ratified six international treaties to date, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), International Labor Organization’s Convention on Child Labor, and the Convention on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, in cooperation with all relevant stakeholders and international organizations, adopted a six-year National Plan for Human Rights (2014-2019) with the aim of promoting and protecting human rights in Lebanon. However, discriminatory provisions within the nationality law and the Penal Code combined with a strong patriarchal system generally put women at a disadvantage. For example; a Lebanese woman married to a foreigner cannot pass her nationality to her husband or children. According to the Personal Status Law, women face further difficulties in matters pertaining to divorce, marital rights, and child custody. Female migrant domestic workers also face exploitation and abuse. Lebanon has a very active civil society. Several NGOs and women’s rights groups are now working on raising awareness concerning these issues through media campaigns and demonstrations. They are also actively lobbying for changing the laws that put women at a disadvantage.