Monday, May 27, 2013

Refugee parents on hunger strike

Beirut – May 27, 2013 – A UNHCR-recognized African refugee couple today began an open-ended hunger strike to demand their resettlement in a third country where their daughter will finally be granted a future.
Lamis, 4 years old, was born to a Sudanese father and a Somali mother. She does not have any nationality or legal status in Lebanon. Her father, Muhamad, 41 years old, arrived to Lebanon in the 90’s, fleeing persecution in Sudan. He was arrested several times for illegal entry and is still traumatized. Her mother Gigi, 30 years old, orphan, fled Somalia when she was a child. She has been a victim of slavery in Lebanon and has never known anything else except suffering and misery.
Lamis is neither Somali nor Sudanese, she is simply stateless. She will never have legal status in Lebanon. The Lebanese Law does not provide for this. She has no opportunity of studying, since she faces the risk of being arrested because she does not have papers. Discrimination, exploitation and poverty - it is the future of Lamis if no solution is found for this family.
« I am afraid she will suffer like me », sobs Gigi, recalling bitterly the years she spent working without ever enjoying her childhood.
« After all these years of suffering, our happiness is gone; our sole purpose now is to give our daughter a future », adds Muhamad.
The only solution for Lamis is a resettlement in another country, organized by the UNHCR. For the moment, no country has accepted them yet. The parents of Lamis cannot take it anymore; they don’t see any other solution than to begin an open-ended hunger strike until a solution is found «at least for Lamis» they beg. « We would even accept that she is sent without us in a country that would protect her rights ».
Despite the fatigue and years of their lives ruined by suffering, they cling to the hope that a country will open its doors to them.
CLDH (Lebanese Center for Human Rights) that is following the case of this family - hosts them in its premises for their hunger strike, not only to show the support of the organization to their protest, but also to prevent further violation of their rights. « Refugees who protest in front of UNHCR are regularly arrested. We prefer that their protest takes place in the safety of our office», explains Wadih Al-Asmar, Secretary General of CLDH.
For more information : Wadih Al-Asmar, 70 950 780.

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