BEIRUT — Ras Baalbeck Municipality issued a circular on Wednesday introducing restrictions on Syrian refugees, including a curfew from 7 p.m to 6 a.m. and setting a limit on the daily wages that local employers can pay to Syrian workers.
Here’s what we know:
• Among the restrictions stated in the announcement: male Syrian workers may not be paid more than LL40,000 per day and they can only work from 8 a.m till 3 p.m., while female Syrian workers are limited to a wage of LL10,000 per hour. The decision also stipulates that Syrians living in the area cannot have visitors from outside areas. The circular, which was posted on the municipality's Facebook page, took effect Wednesday.
• Wadiaa Nabak, a spokesperson for the municipality, told L’Orient Today that the wage cap was issued “as Syrian workers are already getting international aid and are paid in dollars every day from foreign funds, and the curfew and visitors rule was set as a measurement to reduce the rate of thefts happening in the area.”
• Such restrictive measures against refugees are not unusual in Lebanon. Human Rights Watch reported early last year that more than 330 municipalities had imposed curfews on Syrians, which the group criticized as “violating Lebanon’s international human rights commitments and Lebanese domestic law.”
• Farah Baba, a spokeswoman for the Anti-Racism Movement, a group that pushes for migrant workers’ rights, told L’Orient Today that although such measures are very common among municipalities, this particular statement targeted Syrian refugees directly when in previous statements they used to generalize the decisions by saying “migrant workers.”
• Baba noted that the rule would allow employers to exploit workers who are not protected by Lebanese labor law. “This is part of the systemic effort to keep refugees in poverty and then later on authorities taking the stand that they are allegedly protecting Lebanese workers,” she said.