Head of government Saad Hariri (replaced Fouad Siniora in November)
Death penalty retentionist
Population 4.2 million
Life expectancy 71.9 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 31/21 per 1,000
Adult literacy 89.6 per cent
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, established to try those responsible for killing former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in 2005 and related attacks, opened in March, and ordered the release of four generals arbitrarily detained in connection with its investigations. Palestinian refugees continued to face discrimination, which impeded their access to work, health, education and adequate housing. Other refugees were liable to arrest and deportation. Small advances were made in establishing what happened to some of the thousands of people who were victims of enforced disappearance during the 1975-1990 civil war. Some progress was also made to improve the conditions of migrant domestic workers, although they continued to suffer widespread exploitation and abuse. At least 41 people were under sentence of death at the end of the year.
Political tension remained high following June elections until the formation in November of a national unity government. Headed by Saad Hariri, son of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, the new government was formed after five months of negotiations between Saad Hariri's March 14 alliance and the March 8 coalition comprising Hizbullah and other parties.
Several civilians were reported to have been killed and others injured in localized outbreaks of political violence, mostly clashes between the Alawite and Sunni Muslim communities in Tripoli, and in Aisha Bakkar and Ain al-Rummaneh in Beirut.
Relations between Lebanon and Syria continued to improve, with both countries appointing ambassadors.
There was continuing tension with Israel. Several rockets were fired from southern Lebanon into Israel in January, September and October, and Israeli forces returned fire. The Israeli air force continued to violate Lebanese airspace.
Three civilians were killed and 25 injured, including children, by cluster bomb remnants and land mines left behind by Israeli forces in previous years, according to the official Lebanon Mine Action Center. In May, the Israeli authorities handed to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon data and maps showing where their forces had used cluster munitions during the 2006 war.
- In March, Mohammed Abd al-'Aal, aged 10, lost his left leg and right hand when a cluster bomb exploded as he played near his home at Hilta in south Lebanon.
Palestinian and other refugees
Most Palestinian refugees continued living in overcrowded and often squalid conditions in 12 official refugee camps. Nearly 422,000 registered Palestinian refugees faced discriminatory laws and regulations, denying them the right to inherit property, work in around 20 professions and other basic rights.
At least 3,000 Palestinian refugees had no official ID cards – which are required for proving their residence in Lebanon, for registering births, marriages and deaths, and for other essential purposes – because they arrived in Lebanon after the Palestine Liberation Organization was expelled from Jordan in 1971. In 2008, the authorities had issued official temporary ID cards valid for one year to some 800 Palestinians as a step towards legalizing their status and to enable them to move freely about the country. In 2009, however, the General Directorate of the General Security prevented further ID cards from being issued, leaving Palestinian refugees facing severe obstacles to accessing their basic rights.