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Lebanon

Dom living in Lebanon, mostly concentrated in the Beirut area and in the southern regions. While the communities living in the urban areas were often mixed with other marginalized groups, those living in the rural areas were completely isolated from society. In both cases they suffered from relegation and ostracism. Although in 1994 Dom people were granted Lebanese nationality due to misconceptions towards them, they cannot fully enjoy their citizenship. They are still considered as second-class citizens, which significantly narrows their social and political rights. Children live in poor conditions, with limited access to public services, and are often victims of hate from both local children and adults. Almost 70% of children do not attend school10. Unlike the old generations Dom children less likely to speak Domari. Dom men
work in construction, agriculture or with other daily wages like porterage or collecting metals from garbage while many children and women also work in the streets as flower-sellers or beggars. Like other peripatetic groups, Doms also have been discriminated and marginalized due to their ethnic identity and their lifestyle. The Arabic word to describe gypsy, “Nawar” is mostly used as derogatory term by the Arabs. Besides the problems faced by Dom in the country, Dom refugees also struggle against more difficulties.

All borders in the Middle East, especially the borders between Lebanon and Syria have always been porous for Dom groups. Beside the trade and natural conditions, Dom Communities had migrated many times because of the conflicts in the region. Most of the Dom community in Palestine and later Iraq had to migrate to Turkey, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Beyond cultural and historical reasons, Gypsies face poverty, prejudice, discrimination and violation as a result of the various conflicts in the Middle East, currently the Syrian War. During the war, this community has always been the one that suffered most,
confronting famine, poverty and all kinds of violence. These people, who were discriminated against and othered even in the years of peace, do not benefit from basic rights like health, education and shelter, and have been intensely affected by conflicts in spite of their neutrality. Dom communities, who try to live at the “ground zero” of life, have been obliged to leave their ramshackle houses and take to the road. Such conditions, combined with the destructive and violent environment of war, appears to have aggravated their living problems, from social security and shelter to nutrition and health. Before the Syrian War, many Dom groups were seasonally traveling between Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. They were working in Lebanon as informal dentists, musicians or selling their products and services in the villages of Bekaa Valley while they were going back to Syria during winter11. Since the start of the conflict many Dom from Damascus and Aleppo have fled into Lebanon from borders or from the mountains. Some of them joined their relatives in Beirut and Southern Lebanon while many of them has settled in tent cities in the Bekaa Valley.