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A Lebanese council bans local businesses hiring Syrian workers

Syrians in Lebanon may only take on jobs in agriculture, cleaning or construction [AFP]

Date of publication: 10 March, 2017

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Naameh council issued the ban after its mayor Charbel Matar warned that businesses run by Syrians or with Syrian employees face closure.
A Lebanese municipality has banned local businesses from hiring Syrian employees, Lebanon's The Daily Star reported on Friday, with the restrictions extending to Syrian-run companies.

The municipality of Naameh, south of the capital Beirut, issued the ban after its mayor Charbel Matar called on Monday for the "closure of all stores that are run by Syrians or have Syrian workers".

Syrians in Lebanon can only work in farming, cleaning and construction, according to an order issued by the Labour ministry in January, Matar said, adding that businesses who violated the order will be immediately closed.

"Let's just say thing as they are: They [Syrian refugees] are getting aid and money from the UN more than the Lebanese," Matar told The Daily Star.

"It is unjust to receive the burden of them using our electricity and water without paying, increased traffic and selling their products cheaper than our own - and we don't even know if they're brought in legally or not," he said.

Other Lebanese municipalities in the area are expected to take similar action against Syrians.

Last month, a number of Syrian-owned businesses were shut down in the Hadath municipality, as a number of Lebanese shops were forced to replace Syrian workers with nationals.

Some 1.2 million Syrians have sought refuge in neighbouring Lebanon since the conflict in their country began in 2011.

Lebanon, with a population of just 4.4 million, has the highest refugee per capita rate in the world.

The influx of refugees has burdened Lebanon's economy and already-poor infrastructure.

However, a 2015 World Bank study found "little evidence" that newly created Syrian businesses had displaced Lebanese ones.

A separate EU study into the labour market in Jordan and Lebanon also found little evidence that Lebanese nationals were being replaced by Syrian workers.

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