Lebanon, Syria

An Untold Lebanese Refugee Story

Someone recently forwarded me an article from the Anti-Racism Movement’s website, about a new, apparently unofficial, policy to stop renewing the residence permits for the children of migrant workers in Lebanon. Here’s a clip from the piece:

Since early this summer, the General Security had decided, without explanation or prior warning, with no new decision or decree, to no longer renew the residency permits of many migrant domestic workers who reside in Lebanon with their children, most of which have been born and raised here all their lives.

This clearly ‘internal’ decision has not been made public; yet we have already heard of at least fifty cases of migrant children whose ikama renewal has been significantly delayed and a few handful who have been officially rejected already. Some of these rejections, very sad to say, have come in the form of a notice of 72 hours max to leave the country.

These people have never had trouble with the law, or with the renewal of their papers in the past. They have always followed procedures as they should and they paid all their dues throughout the 10, 20, 30 years of their stay in Lebanon.

Some have been here for years, others for decades, others their whole lives.

migrantworkersI have not been able to find much more information about this issue, but have heard several anecdotes from friends and relatives suggesting that it is true. Many Lebanese feel that the country is already bursting at the seams with foreign nationals because of the refugee problem, but it needs to be understood that the many of these children have never lived anywhere else besides Lebanon.

I know a young girl (let’s call her Lina) who is currently in this situation. She was born to two migrant workers and grew up in Lebanon. Her father passed away a few years ago, and her mother works as a housekeeper. Lina has lived in Beirut for her whole life, visiting her mother’s home country only once. She attends a Lebanese parochial school, is one of the top students in her class, and speaks Arabic, English, and French like many other kids her age.

Lina’s annual residence permit will expire in two weeks. Her mother is terrified of going to the General Security office to get it renewed because she’s afraid that Lina will be given 72 hours to leave the country. At least, reasons her mother, two weeks will give Lina the chance to pack her things and say goodbye to her friends before she has to leave.

The saddest aspect of this story is that Lina’s mother will have to return to Lebanon after she takes her “home”, leaving her daughter behind in order to support her. A girl who lost her father a few years ago will now also lose her mother, being raised in a foreign “home” country by relatives she hardly knows.

I’d like to know if anyone else can confirm or deny that this policy is actually in effect, and what is being done about it. If you know of any immigration attorneys or authorities connected with General Security who might be able to shed light on the options available to children in Lina’s situation, please either leave a comment below or send me a note via the Contact page. Also, for any journalists who are interested in doing a story on this issue, please get in touch.

Update: A confirmation from Human Rights Watch.


39 thoughts on “An Untold Lebanese Refugee Story

  1. As you noticed it seems to be true as the Daily Star had an article on this today:


    As usual the whole system is corrupt and it seems decisions are made randomly by security agencies with no rationale.

    Posted by danny | September 3, 2014, 9:25 am
  2. This policy is in line with that of other Arab countries.

    An employee earning less than $1,100/month cannot sponsor a family’s residence permit. However, I do believe the employer can.

    Posted by Ray | September 3, 2014, 10:31 am
  3. This is actually a non-story.

    If this a personal plight for Lina, she can always be adopted by the very concerned local Lebanese parties?

    Posted by Ray | September 3, 2014, 2:00 pm
  4. What should we make of the Palestinians, then ?


    Posted by Ray | September 3, 2014, 2:14 pm
  5. Anyone that does their job and calls a Lebanese “Sir” and “Madam” for over ten years has to be granted exceptions.

    The same should apply to Mexicans in the US.

    Posted by Ray | September 3, 2014, 3:02 pm
  6. This is ashaming!

    Posted by Jodi T. | September 4, 2014, 9:34 am
  7. Since QN has brought up racism in a main post, never mind it being about Lebanese racism, we need to talk about a more inmportant issue of racism or so-called anti-semitism which is taking place within the hypocritical anals of Jewish life in America and Israel, greatly affecting American and Arab people.

    According to this author, the Arabs and mainstream America have a lot in common than one may think. In particular, both people are confronting a common enemy seeking to dehumanize them and to spread corruption in their communities. The Jews are racist to the core, according to the author, with very few exceptions. Often they hide such racism, when they have to, in fake humanistic terms which when examined carefully one discovers they only seek to corrupt. While the Arabs are directly aware of this scourge, the Americans are deliberately kept in the dark by devilish schemes, lies and outright hypocrisy. But they (the Jews) are not the least concerned about flaunting it when they feel they can get away with it, as they do in Israel according to the author who proves his thesis with clarity and abundant dicumentations.


    The Arabs have an obvious enemy and was made even more obvious during the recent Gaza events. Remember racist Joane Rivers, thankfully, no longer around to spread her Zionist venom.

    The Americans have the enemy within and they urgently need to be educated about its evils.

    Posted by Mustap | September 5, 2014, 5:48 pm
  8. Mustap,

    Isn’t “changing the subject” a discredited dodge? Made worse in this case by an effort to distract attention from a specific discreditable Lebanese government policy, by instead linking to a piece filled with anti-Jewish generalizations. Why not talk about Lebanon for a while, and think about how to support civil society groups there that aim to ensure the rights of the country’s ubiquitous low-wage foreign work force?

    Posted by Jim Reilly | September 6, 2014, 9:31 am
  9. Jim,

    Why not talk about both without changing the subject?

    Posted by Mustap | September 6, 2014, 10:39 am
  10. Let’s talk about racism in your beloved Kingdom you pathetic piece of scum. How about the way those domestic slaves are treated there? Oh that’s not racism, it is as you said earlier, just a contract those poor bastards have to abide by it’s dehumanizing clauses when they sign up. And you found time to turn this into “the Jews are racist” ?You shameless turd

    Posted by Vulcan | September 6, 2014, 12:12 pm
  11. You Vulcan piece of froth is right about the Wise Kingdom.

    The Wise Kingdom is contracting those workers and treating them according to the terms of the contracts. The Kingdom is not hypocritically claiming to abide by any mirage of so-called international laws as your Zio friends purport with their deceptions. If you don’t like it. Tough luck. But it’s good you remember what I said in previous comments. It gives me the satisfaction that I’m always keeping you in the constant state of fuming with anger.

    Are you upset because your Zio friends are exposed by the article I linked? Again tough luck. Racism must be dealt with at the source where it is masquarading as a humanistic corrupting agent. Thanks to Alexis for his deep insights! After all Lebanese racism is the Jayvee team compared to the Kobe Bryants.

    You see now why I linked the article Jim?

    Long live the Wise King.

    Posted by Mustap | September 6, 2014, 2:01 pm
  12. Froth? I like froth.

    Froth is good.

    Posted by Gabriel | September 6, 2014, 4:56 pm
  13. Ray

    I like the hashtags.

    Very current.

    Posted by Gabriel | September 6, 2014, 5:02 pm
  14. “The Wise Kingdom is contracting those workers and treating them according to the terms of the contracts”

    Yup treat disadvantaged poor people like slaves. Off course the wise douche kingdom does not abide by universal human rights! They believe in chopping heads off! Wise indeed!

    Posted by danny | September 6, 2014, 6:12 pm
  15. What universal human rights fan of pathetic criminal?

    Everyone may talk and may make sense. But you? You think you can ever be taken seriously with such criminal above your head?

    Posted by Mustap | September 6, 2014, 6:28 pm
  16. instead linking to a piece filled with anti-Jewish generalizations

    Thank you Jim Reilly and Vulcan for speaking the truth.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 6, 2014, 7:12 pm
  17. Mustapha…Thank God (not yours…Mine does not advocate chopping off heads you moron); you think I don’t make sense. Go melt away ya da3esh. What a douche! Still have not gotten the point eh? Pathetic!

    Posted by danny | September 6, 2014, 7:32 pm
  18. AP,

    words coming from a non entity should not bother you. Treat IT as it should be!

    Posted by danny | September 6, 2014, 7:34 pm
  19. If it’s not my God you’re thanking, then I need not worry about a God which sanctions your pathetic criminal idol.

    It’s obvious who should melt away. It’s you.

    Posted by Mustap | September 6, 2014, 8:39 pm

  20. words coming from a non entity should not bother you. Treat IT as it should”</i€

    It's about time a fan of lebanese war criminal falls in love with a zio fan of a Jewish war criminal.

    How should we treat this fortunate turn of events? Is it an entity or a nonentity?

    Posted by Mustap | September 6, 2014, 8:43 pm
  21. It is comical seeing a thing squirm. 😀

    Posted by danny | September 6, 2014, 9:29 pm
  22. Mustafa,

    What kind of karma are you attracting to yourself (one of those things I learnt in Hindustani Ashrams).

    We have a good Toronto professor gracing the pages of QN. Please try your best to leave a good impression about Arabs in his mind.

    Posted by Gabriel | September 6, 2014, 10:00 pm
  23. Well, speaking of racism, I am proud to inform you that ISIS is really the only ME organization that doesn’t discriminate! That’s right, they murder everyone no matter who you are: syrian, lebanese, iraqi, christian, muslim and jew…


    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 6, 2014, 10:02 pm
  24. Exactly, what are you doing in Hindustan, Cobra?

    You start commenting on QN at 3:00 am and continue until about 11:00 am local time.

    This looks like a wierd schedule. Do you sleep during the afternoon and work the evenings? Or do you work the afternoons and sleep the evenings? Or do you work early mornings and do your commenting while at work.

    Either way it’s very wierd schedule for making rupees.

    Posted by Mustap | September 6, 2014, 10:45 pm
  25. Fans of Lebanese war criminals have a wierd sense of what squirming is like.

    Knowing that one is up against some wierdos makes one feel much at ease.

    There’s not much that I should worry about in this case.

    Posted by Mustap | September 6, 2014, 11:06 pm
  26. Money doesn’t come easy for me ya Mustafa.

    During the day I work long shifts earning what amounts to petty cash. (You can imagine the sort of damage earning rupees can do).

    At night, I am relegated to selling my, well I’ll let your imagination complete that sentance.

    Do you have any suggestions on how I can get myself out of this rut?

    Posted by Gabriel | September 6, 2014, 11:06 pm
  27. Are you trying to earn my sympathy, or are you breaking your right hand on purpose and using it as a cover for something else?

    Posted by Mustap | September 6, 2014, 11:14 pm
  28. Sympathy? No.

    But can’t I get a few money making pointers?

    Posted by Gabriel | September 7, 2014, 12:12 am
  29. So, why do you need to play on sympathies? Can’t you just make your intentions clear?

    Is this always your way? The cobra way?

    You see? I didn’t come up with the cobra thing out of the blue. There was a basis for it.

    Try the NSE or the BSE.

    Posted by Mustap | September 7, 2014, 12:35 am
  30. I didn’t think you were the mushy type! Why did you assume I was playing on your emotions?

    The last time I dabbled with the stock exchange it didn’t go well. That’s why I work the long hours.

    Regarding the “cobra” label. It doesn’t bother me, so carry on using it. But is that really the kind of language you choose to use in intercourse?

    Posted by Gabriel | September 7, 2014, 11:32 am
  31. Do you find a problem with this language? I’m surprised with somebody who keeps using the same language. You should be able to live with it as I can live with your petty labels.

    Posted by Mustap | September 7, 2014, 12:20 pm
  32. No, I don’t have a problem with the language. I don’t do petty insults though.

    Is that how you want to define your presence here? Petty insults? Are you really not better than that?

    Posted by Gabriel | September 7, 2014, 12:39 pm
  33. Are you sure you don’t do petty insults?

    That’s all you’ve been doing since you showed up here, unless I’m reading the wrong comments.

    But, I really admire your ability at denial.

    And you don’t need to worry about how I define my presence. Worry about your own.

    Posted by Mustap | September 7, 2014, 1:02 pm
  34. Mustafa,

    You’re welcome to requote the offending atatement.

    Of course I’m not worried about how you present yourself. That’s your business. I’m just asking whether or not that’s how you choose to define yourself.

    It’s clear you’ve made a conscientious choice on the matter. So carry on.

    Posted by Gabriel | September 7, 2014, 3:08 pm
  35. Continue with your pathetic denials which only means you never learn and will always do the same.

    I’m sure if you go back over your comments you’ll come back with your usual cold faced denials.

    What’s the use requoting you in this case?

    Best thing is ignoring you as was my first impression when you first showed up.

    First impressions are the most lasting, as you may guess.

    May be this is a good point for you to go back and see yourself in action.

    Posted by Mustap | September 7, 2014, 4:30 pm
  36. QN,

    Perhaps you can create a splinter blog for the highly strung who want to vent their frustration by engaging in petty insults.
    It’s a shame, because this blog is renowned for political insight and healthy debate. Just sayin’

    Posted by Maverick | September 7, 2014, 9:57 pm
  37. Maverick,

    Feel free to redirect the conversation to the topic on hand.

    Although I am not sure what people may want to say about it. I am certain that most of us find the report disturbing and unacceptable.

    Given that I grew up in the Gulf, this story isn’t novel or unique. So I’m not sure what makes this an issue more pressing today than it was a year ago, or a decade ago.

    Is this not an issue that a good old fashioned wasta can take care of?

    Posted by Gabriel | September 8, 2014, 12:37 am
  38. Ladies and gents,

    Can we stop the personal attacks please? There isn’t going to be a post for at least a few days, and in the meantime you might all go out and get some air. No sense hanging around here.


    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 8, 2014, 8:33 am
  39. censorship for real ?

    Posted by 3issa | September 8, 2014, 4:50 pm

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