PSI Organizes World Refugee Day 2023 Panel Event in Beirut, Lebanon

On 20 June 2023, PSI organized a regional hybrid panel event in Beirut, Lebanon, to commemorate World Refugee Day 2023 with the theme “Solidarity, Hope and Inclusion: Public Services Trade Union Actions on Refugee Rights in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region.” The panel event brought together 31 participants, 15 women, and 16 men, from PSI, trade union members from the Arab countries and the Swedish affiliates, civil society organizations, and the International Labor Organization.

The panel opened with the reaffirmation of the PSI’s solidarity and human-rights based policy on migration, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), while defending access to quality public services, the right to organize and the right to decent working conditions amidst the social, political, economic and climate crises that grip the region.

As a contribution to the panel, the representative from the ILO focused on the challenges faced in the Arab region in terms of respect to trade union rights and the need for an independent and effective trade union movement that can play a key role in advancing social justice. The panel also brought attention to the ILO Guiding Principles on Access of Refugees and other forcibly displaced persons to the labour market that countries hosting refugees can adopt.

Also contributing to the panel were the Swedish affiliates who shared the current situation in Sweden where the ruling right-wing government continues to minimize its responsibilities to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Speaking on behalf of the Swedish affiliates, Nina Bergman (Vardforbundet), shared the example of how the Swedish unions resist regressive policies, in particular the new proposal by the government for public service workers to denounce undocumented migrants who come to access public services and to report them to the authorities. PSI Swedish affiliates and allied civil society organizations are mobilizing to unequivocally reject the proposal on the basis of human rights and the ethics of their profession.

The panel discussion that followed highlighted some of the issues and tensions in the region particularly in the case of Lebanon that is facing an economic collapse while hosting the largest proportion of refugees relative to its population. Participants underscored the principle of non-refoulement, safe, dignified and voluntary returns, access to legal pathways and rights-based labour migration as the key strategies and advocacies that PSI affiliates will carry out.

At the end of the panel discussion, all the participants reaffirmed the commitment to human rights, core labour standards, decent work and quality public services in commemorating World Refugee Day as amplified in the PSI global statement calling for "Solidarity, Hope and Inclusion in a World Faced with Multiple Crises."