Amnesty: Syria refugee women in Lebanon face abuse, exploitation

Amnesty: Syria refugee women in Lebanon face abuse, exploitation
Tightened restrictions and plummeting international aid have left Syrian refugee women in Lebanon more vulnerable to exploitation including sexual harassment, rights group Amnesty International said in a report on Tuesday.

Released ahead of a key donor conference for Syria in London this week, the report urges greater financial support and more resettlement opportunities for Syrian refugees from the international community, Naharnet reported.

Amnesty said 70 percent of the more than one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon were living well below the local poverty line.

Those refugees who receive assistance have faced cuts as donor funds to the United Nations have consistently fallen short of its needs.

Amnesty said women refugees in particular faced exploitation.

It said many reported being paid pitiful wages, charged exorbitant rents, and facing sexual harassment at the hands of bosses and even the police.

"Whether they are underpaid at work or living in dirty, rat-infested, leaking homes, the lack of financial stability causes immense difficulties for women refugees and encourages people in positions of power to take advantage of them," said Amnesty gender researcher Kathryn Ramsay.

Tightened restrictions have left many refugees unable to renew their residency permits and mean they are living in Lebanon illegally, making them reluctant to report abuses, the group said.

Lebanon has struggled to deal with an influx of refugees that now represents a quarter of its four-million-strong population, and last year began making it harder for Syrian refugees to stay, Agence France Presse reported.

The rights group acknowledged the pressures the refugee crisis has created in Lebanon, but urged the government to ease the restrictions.

"Instead of contributing to the climate of fear and intimidation, the Lebanese authorities must urgently amend their policies to ensure women refugees are protected," Ramsay said.

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