Syrians face discrimination in Lebanon

April 13, 2009 at 4:22 PM

BEIRUT, Lebanon, April 13 (UPI) -- Syrian workers in Lebanon face growing threats and continued discrimination despite a recent thaw in diplomatic relations, human-rights groups said.

Roughly 15 percent of the Syrian workforce is employed in menial labor in Lebanon, often living at the job site for very low wages. Most have witnessed repeated attacks and robberies since 2005, when Syrian operatives were blamed for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Despite a recent move to return to normal diplomatic ties following an exchange of embassies from both countries, Syrian workers in Lebanon face continued threats to their personal safety, the U.N. humanitarian news agency, IRIN, reports.

Nadim Houry, a researcher at the Human Rights Watch office in Beirut, said the oppression of the Syrian migrant labor pool in Lebanon is indicative of the cultural acrimony between both countries.

"It's part of Lebanon's history," he said. "Syrian workers have become scapegoats because they're perceived as weak."

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