A possible way out of this situation is for women to marry a Lebanese man: in this case, the Palestinian bride may obtain Lebanese nationality one year after the marriage registration, but only in case of a favourable judicial decision.
Ultimately, the most basic rights are denied to Palestinians living in Lebanon: despite the reception accorded to them in the very early stages of their exodus, to this day the situation is not only unsustainable and cause of great marginalisation, but also has a profound impact on the health, wellbeing and life expectancy of the Palestinian population. A study conducted in 2012 among households known to UNRWA found that more than 30 per cent of those surveyed suffer from a chronic illness and 24 per cent from an acute illness in the previous six months; that more than half of the women suffer from psychological problems; that more than 40 per cent of the homes have water infiltration, which negatively affects the prevalence of chronic illnesses.
Conditions for children are very difficult: overpopulation and exposure to violence are two major risk factors. One study found that school attendance is reduced by the “high prevalence of loneliness, worry, and suicidal ideation”. This whole picture has repercussions on mental health, which in a camp such as Shatila is neglected in primary care, and on psychosocial well-being, with a large part of the population reporting emotional, behavioural, psychosomatic problems (tension, anxiety, sadness, exhaustion, hyperactivity, learning difficulties…). This situation has been further aggravated by the onset of the Syrian crisis, with further exposure to problematic and potentially traumatic events.
What existential perspectives can an individual who is born in this environment, from the womb of a mother who has known only this, for generations, as her mother and her mother before her? Where the memory of living a life free to express and develop, to dream and become, fades with every passing day? The Nakba of 1948 is not an isolated, self-contained episode: it was the beginning of a process that to this day knows no conclusion. The Israeli-Palestinian question has never been resolved because, generalising, neither Israel has ever granted a return to Palestinian refugees, nor have Palestinians ever abandoned the ideal of returning to their homeland, to their homes. This visceral attachment to their violated past, the feeling of injustice they suffered, created a precise and inflexible identity of an entire population, which has kept it alive for more than 75 years through a troubled existence, marginalised, abused and forgotten by most. It went through the Lebanese civil war, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, suffered betrayals, massacres (see the terrible case of Sabra and Shatila). It is therefore no surprise that a 2020 qualitative study addressed to Palestinians in Lebanon found “unsafety as a pervasive psychological experience: everyday fears of survival and harassment can be as stressful as fears of armed clashes or crime for Palestinian refugees”, and that “Palestinian refugees are pessimistic about the future and many see resettlement to another country as the only solution.”