U.N.: Palestinian Youths in Lebanon Marginalizedإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Palestinian youths in Lebanon suffer from marginalization from an early age, and nearly half of these refugee children drop out of secondary school, a survey published on Wednesday showed.
"It is striking that only 53 percent of Palestinian children in Lebanon attend secondary school," Soha Bsat Boustani, spokeswoman for the U.N. children's fund (UNICEF) in Lebanon, told AFP.
"This means that nearly half of Palestinian youths become marginalized from an early age. Dropping out of school creates major obstacles for children's futures," she added.
More than 450,000 Palestinians are registered in Lebanon with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees, though the actual number is estimated at between 260,000 and 280,000, according to an international NGO.
Some 43 percent of Palestinian refugees are aged under 19, according to a survey of camps and other communities where refugees live, conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF.
Living conditions in Lebanon's 12 official refugee camps are squalid, with poor sanitation, infrastructure and inadequate access to basic services such as health and education.
"The way that Palestinian children are growing up in Lebanon, it is a time-bomb," PCBS President Ola Awad told AFP.
"The drop-out rate from secondary school is so high it is dangerous. Long term, we are looking at a generation bound to live with psychosocial and health problems," Awad added.
"It is very upsetting that these youths have such potential, but no opportunities."
Conditions of life for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon's camps were described in June by international NGO ANERA as "the worst of the region's camps."
While poverty drives many boys to seek informal work from a young age, disillusionment also plays a role in the decision by Palestinian teenagers to drop out of school.
According to a UNICEF child protection expert, part of the problem is Palestinians face stiff work restrictions that effectively bar them from employment in more than two dozen professions.
"Palestinians in Lebanon face major barriers, including problems related to the right to work," said Isabella Castrogiovanni.
"So children feel frustrated, and a disenchantment with the system, knowing that however well they do in school, they are bound to face serious limits in future," Castrogiovanni added.
Meanwhile, the UNICEF-PCBS also found Palestinian refugee children also suffer from rates of malnutrition so high that they qualify as chronic.
"The results showed that 13 percent of children are severely or moderately stunted (or too short for their age) and five percent are severely stunted," according to the survey.
"These indicators reflect chronic malnutrition," it added.
"It's clear to the eyes when you walk into any camp that sanitation, environmental and social conditions are not apt for children," said the PCBS' Awad.
"In such conditions, it should be no surprise to anyone that social violence exists," she added.