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Lebanon expels Lankan boy, mother

2014 Sep 04

Sri Lankan boy who was born in Lebanon and had lived there all his life and his mother have been deported after being issued notices by General Security,  Lebanon’s security agency in charge of foreigners’ entry and residency.

The New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that the boy and his mother had been deported in June even though the boy was enrolled in school. His father, also from Sri Lanka, was not expelled from Lebanon.

The boy, who is now in Sri Lanka, had said that someone at the Lebanese General Security said that they were not issuing visas to children anymore and they were given only two days to leave.

“I had had a residency permit in Lebanon since I was born. I never lived in Sri Lanka before. My mom and I are now in Sri Lanka. My mom has no work here and is trying to go back to Lebanon. My dad is still in Lebanon. If she leaves, I will have to stay here and live with my cousins,” the boy has said.

Lebanon is deporting locally born children of migrant workers and in some cases their mothers, nine nongovernmental organizations working in Lebanon, including HRW, said today. The organisations said that a recent decision by General Security to deny residency permit renewals for a number of low-wage migrants who have had children in Lebanon and for their children disproportionately interferes with the right to family life.

Since May 2014, nearly a dozen female migrant workers, many of them longstanding residents of Lebanon, reported to human rights groups that when they went to General Security to renew residency papers for themselves and their children, they were turned down. Some were told they were not allowed to have children in Lebanon and given a short period of time to leave the country. In some cases, they said, they were given as little as 48 hours.

“Under General Security’s new directive some families are being torn apart while others are apparently being denied their livelihoods simply because they’ve had children in Lebanon,” said Nadim Houry, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Human Rights Watch. “The Lebanese authorities have not given any justification for this new policy and should immediately revoke this directive as it interferes with the right to family life.”

Under Lebanese residency regulations, certain categories of low-wage migrants, particularly domestic workers, are not allowed to sponsor residency for their spouses or children. However, in the past, Lebanon-born children of the migrants could apply for year-long residency up until age four and then could apply for residency if they enrolled in school.

Sources within General Security have confirmed to nongovernmental groups that the agency has a new directive regarding the renewal of residency permits for Lebanon-born children of low-wage migrants and their migrant parents. Despite written requests from the nongovernmental groups to receive a copy of the directive the agency has yet to respond. Activists say the directive was apparently adopted in January 2014, but has been applied more stringently since May and has resulted in the expulsion of some family members of migrant workers.

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