BEIRUT: Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon live in fear of being evicted from their homes, and are doubly impacted by discriminatory Lebanese laws and patriarchal practices in the family, said a Norwegian Refugee Council report released Thursday.
Palestinian refugees often do not know how long they can stay in their homes because they are not allowed to own land, according to the NRC. Not being able to rent, own or repair homes that they have lived in for decades, is affecting Palestinian women and their families.
The lack of property rights are hurting Palestinian women in particular, who have little hope of ever owning their homes and are often dependent on their fathers and husbands inside the household.
One woman was quoted in the report as saying that the path of a Palestinian woman led “from the house of her father to the house of her husband.”
Palestinians are coping with the implications of law prohibiting them from having property rights, which was passed in 2001 under the pretext of barring permanent settlement of non-Lebanese.
The law prohibits such rights for those individuals who do not hold nationality from a recognized state.
After the implementation of this legislation, Palestinians have been unable to enjoy property rights in Lebanon. This leaves those who possess land or wish to inherit property with little prospect of formal ownership protection.
The report said the actual impacts of the law were not yet clear, as Palestinians have been reluctant to test its perceived consequences with legal action because it might expose them to threats of eviction.
Although some Palestinians do lawfully own their homes in Lebanon, the majority do not. The report focused on those families who hold no legal title to the homes in which they live.
The NRC report recounted the story of Ahlam, a Palestinian woman from south Lebanon, as an example. Prior to 2001, she had bought an apartment with her husband and when the law was passed, she registered their home in her sister’s name, who as a Jordanian national can legally own property in Lebanon.
Their lack of property rights has heightened Palestinian anxieties as many are now hosting relations fleeing from Syria. Refugees taking in refugees have exacerbated the already difficult housing conditions and has highlighted the lack of property rights for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, according to the NRC.
“We do not know when safe return to Syria will be possible and support is urgently needed to improve the poor living conditions in the overcrowded refugee camps and gatherings for Palestinians in Lebanon. Assisting people to have property rights is a concrete way of providing support,” said Dalia Aranki, NRC’s program manager.