Twenty-one refugees from the Sudanese community have now entered day 29 of their hunger strike in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) building in Jnah. Today, they’ve decided to raise the stakes even higher; they are now refusing to drink juice or water. One of the men on strike, Ibrahim Ishaac, told the Daily Star newspaper on Friday that this group is “ready to be a sacrifice for this cause... we are serious and ready to die for this.”
The situation of refugees and asylum seekers in Lebanon, especially for those who are of Sudanese nationality, is particularly deplorable. These people face constant racism and discrimination. In some cases, they’ve been violently and physically attacked. Moreover, refugees are under constant risk of arbitrary detention and illegal deportation to their country of origin. These men and women also face huge obstacles finding decent work and pay because they don’t have access to work permits. Furthermore, asylum seekers’ children are not allowed to pursue their education, even with the UNHCR refugee status (which is issued with a certain deadline that has no legal grounds in Lebanon).
The situation in Sudan continues to deteriorate by the day. Hence, the refugees can’t consider going back to their home country because of the risks and consequences they might face. It is clear that this group of people, whose families wives and children join them every morning on strike, are not going to give up without a fight.
The refugees demands come down to this: they want the UN agency to deal seriously with the intolerable problems they face in Lebanon. For a full list of the Sudanese striker’s demands click here.
Meanwhile, here is what you can do to act in solidarity with these suffering people:
-Visit the hunger strike in Jnah – it’s right behind Spinneys facing the UNHCR building on the street. You can go anytime, day or night.
-Attend a night in solidarity with the Sudanese refugees being held at the Nasawiya Cafe in Mar Mikhael on Wednesday night.
-Bring the hunger strike to the attention of the international human+ rights community. Let resettlement countries, the Lebanese state and UNHCR global office and the High Commissioner, Antonio Gueterres, know what is going on in Lebanon.
-Spread the word on social media by tagging @refugees, the official account of UNHCR and hashtagging #UNHCR. Post on their Facebook page.
-Write an email to the staff at UNHCR in Jnah on email@example.com or call them on +961.01849201, expressing your concern.
-Write an email to international, regional and local humanitarian organizations and to embassies of resettlement countries, expressing your concern.
If you’d like find out more about getting involved in this cause, email the Anti-Racism Movement in Lebanon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of the Anti-Racism Movement in Lebanon.