Palestinians pay price of decades of state neglect

Recent symbolic gestures do little to improve living conditions in camps
By Lysandra Ohrstrom
Daily Star staff
Monday, June 11, 2007

BEIRUT
: In March 2006 the government sent a delegation of ministers to 12 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, marking the first time any state officials had visited the semi-autonomous communities since 1948. The visit was one of many symbolic government initiatives to address the plight of Palestinians in Lebanon since Prime Minister Fouad Siniora created the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC) in 2005.

Like resigned Labor Minister Trad Hamade’s decree in June 2005 allowing Palestinians to work in 50 manual and semi-skilled construction and service sector jobs previously barred to them, the morale boosting gesture has not perceptibly ameliorated the appalling living conditions in the camps.

Headed by ambassador Khalil Makkowi, the LPDC’s mandate is to improve the living conditions of Palestinians residing in and outside the 12 refugee camps in Lebanon; “initiate a dialogue” to negotiate security inside the camps and disarm factions outside these zones; and to “study” the issue of re-establishing diplomatic relations and representation between Lebanon and the Palestine.

CONTINUATION >>>

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