Lebanon: repatriation of Syrian refugees to their country

A group of Syrian refugees left Lebanon on Wednesday to return to their country, according to the National News Agency, as part of what Beirut calls the “voluntary and safe repatriation of displaced people”, which began in 2017. in lots.

Lebanon announced the resumption of this plan this month, despite criticism from humanitarian organizations which warned of the “risk of suffering atrocious violations and persecutions” that afflict refugees. in return case.

On Wednesday, a group of Syrian refugees began leaving Lebanon for Syria, the national news agency and a photographer told Agence France-Presse, as part of organized trips undertaken by Lebanese general security. in coordination with Damascus, amid criticism of human rights organizations. Since prime morning hours, buses and vans gathered in the Arsal region of eastern Lebanon, some of them carrying Lebanese and Syrian license plates, before gradually starting Syrian territory. Refugees carried their personal belongings with them, including personal effects, personal effects, and even poultry and animals. Around 750 refugees are expected to leave from different areas, according to General Security, through at least three border crossings, as part of the “voluntary and safe repatriation of displaced persons”, initiated by the Lebanese authorities in 2017, in batches and announced this month the resumption of its implementation.

In turn, the Syrian news agency “SANA” confirmed: “The arrival of a batch of Syrian refugees from refugee camps in Lebanon through the Dabousiyah border crossing into the countryside of Homs (central) to return to their safe and terror-free areas. “

According to mass returns, according to Lebanese general security data, more than 400,000 refugees have been repatriated in Syria, but humanitarian organizations believe that the number of returnees is much lower and speak of documenting cases of “forced” deportation. “By zealously facilitating these returns, the Lebanese authorities are deliberately putting Syrian refugees at risk of horrific abuse and persecution upon their return in Syria, ”said Diana Samaan, Amnesty International’s interim deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa on Friday. .

The Lebanese Director General of General Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, instead condemned the positions of humanitarian organizations on Tuesday, without naming them. He said: “Lebanon rejects the existing method of dealing”, stressing: “We will not force any displaced people to return.” Since the Syrian army regained control of most of the country, some countries have lobbied to deport refugees from their territories, under the pretext of lessening the intensity of the fighting. However, the cessation of fighting, according to human rights and international organizations, does not mean that the return of refugees has become safe in light of crumbling infrastructure, difficult economic conditions and, sometimes, security objectives.

In Lebanon, according to human rights organizations, pressures on refugees ranged from curfews, arrests, racism and deportations to raids and restrictions on residence transactions. For years Beirut has viewed the practice of refugees as a burden and felt that their presence helped to accelerate and exacerbate the economic collapse. in course in the country since 2019. After the outbreak of the conflict in Syria, Lebanon has become a destination for hundreds of thousands of Syrians who fled their areas as the battles progressed. The Lebanese authorities currently estimate the presence of over two million refugees on its territory, while the number of those registered with the United Nations is approximately 830,000.