Some Syrian refugees are drawn to the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp because it’s off-limits to Lebanese authorities.
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Many Syrian refugees in Lebanon say their lives have ground to a halt since new measures made it almost impossible for them to obtain or renew their residence permits.Like other Palestinian camps across Lebanon, Shatila has grown over the years into a cramped district housing poor Lebanese families and thousands of Syrian refugees.With more than 1.1 million Syrians and 450,000 Palestinians registered as refugees in Lebanon, the tiny Mediterranean country is home to the world's highest refugee-to-resident ratio.Because Lebanon has not, however, signed the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention, it treats Syrians as foreigners, not refugees.Rules adopted in January 2015 require Syrians to either register for residency through the U.N. – on condition that they pledge not to work – or through a Lebanese sponsor. Paying the renewal fee is nearly unimaginable for Syrians like Radiya Ahmad, a 23-year-old mother of two who lives in Shatila.Some Lebanese are taking advantage of the Syrians' vulnerability, demanding hundreds of dollars in exchange for sponsorship, Ahmad said.
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