Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hunger Strike- Ongoing

July 8, 2012

We, the undersigned Twenty-one refugees from the Sudanese community are continuing our hunger-strike in front of the UNHCR premises in Beirut. This hunger-strike started on the morning of Monday, June 11, 2012

Our main demands are:
      That the UNHCR holds itself fully responsible toward people who are registered with the Agency as refugees and asylum seekers in Lebanon and grant all their rights as per the rules and regulations of the agency.
      That the UNHCR maintains transparency throughout its interactions with their partners, refugees and the media by creating a transparent mechanism or specific department where UNHCR's Persons of Concern / refugees can know their case situation and be informed about what possible alternatives they have in case resettlement was rejected by certain country. UNHCR should start open / transparent information channels with POCs informing them about their rights as beneficiaries.
      That the UNHCR assist in appointing a defense lawyer for each asylum seeker/refugee when arrested on grounds of illegal entry/stay or violation of a deportation order.
      That the UNHCR provides adequate financial assistance to cover all needs of refugees with regards to housing, education and children, especially children with disabilities.
      That the UNHCR allows asylum seeking detainees to be legally represented during the refugee determination process carried out in detention.
      That resettlement states immediately act upon resettlement requests for recognized refugees who fulfill the requested criteria, taking into consideration the urgency of the refugees’ situation.
      That the Lebanese state pushes for producing an immediate, strict policy in terms of dealing with incidents of racism or discrimination towards migrants and refugees at schools.
      That the Lebanese state treats the refugees detained in Lebanese prisons with respect and regard to their rights as asylum seekers.
      That the Lebanese state amends the law regarding illegal entry and exit and not put Refugees or asylum seekers in the same category with other individuals which illegally trespass the Lebanese borders.

The refugees are on strike at the doors of UNHCR alongside their families, wives and children who join them in the mornings. The situation of refugees and asylum seekers in Lebanon, especially who are of Sudanese nationality, is particularly deplorable: Sudanese asylum seekers and refugees face constant racism and discrimination and in some cases some were violently and physically attacked based on their race. Moreover, those refugees are always at risk of arbitrary detention and illegal deportation to their country of origin. Men and women have difficulties finding work that would allow a decent pay, given that they don’t have any legal stay permit. Asylum seekers’ children are not allowed to pursue their education and when they do, even with the UNHCR refugee status (that is issued with a certain deadline that has no legal grounds in Lebanon). The situation in Sudan is exacerbating and it keeps deteriorating every day. Hence, the refugees can’t consider going back to Sudan because of the risks and consequences they might face.

Sudanese Refugees on Hunger-Strike in front of UNHCR Offices – Beirut, Lebanon

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