Three weeks ago, the Lebanese authorities began organizing trips to repatriate Syrian refugees in coordination with the regime of Bashar Assad, as the move comes in a resumption of what the Lebanese government started since 2017 and stopped during the period of the Corona pandemic. The first wave witnessed the return of 511 refugees, according to a statement by the Lebanese General Security, in coordination with the Assad regime.
Although human rights and international organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have warned of the dangers refugees may face such as abuse, detention, and torture in Syrian prisons, there has been no positive response.
the number of registered [SYRIAN] refugees [IN LEBANON] is around 839,000 until March 31, 2022UNHCR
Neighboring Lebanon was a destination for seeking safety and escaping abuses by the regime which met the demonstrations that swept the country with systematic brutality against Syrian civilians.
The Lebanese government estimates the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon to be approximately 1.5 million, while UNHCR says the number of registered refugees is around 839,000 until March 31, 2022.
9 out of 10 Syrian refugees live in extreme povertyUNHCR
The country is suffering from internal crises at the political level and is witnessing an unprecedented economic contraction, which has caused the local currency to collapse and the prices of food, fuel and other basics to rise.
According to UNHCR, 9 out of 10 Syrian refugees live in extreme poverty. The UN says some $9 billion in aid has been provided through the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan since 2015.
In light of the deteriorating circumstances, Lebanon sees the refugee file as a burden on it, making the refugee the weakest link in this chain, forcing them to accept return, as a result of racism promoted by media outlets and politicians over the past years without any interference from the authorities, curfews, attacks by Hezbollah loyalists, arrests, the imposition of complex restrictions, and even forced deportation.
those who returned to Syria between 2017 and 2021 from Lebanon and Jordan faced 21 cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, 13 cases of torture, 3 abductions, 5 cases of extrajudicial killings, 17 cases of enforced disappearance, and a case of sexual violence out of the 65 returnees or family members interviewedHuman Rights Watch
Syria is not safe for the return of Syrian refugees, as returnees are subjected to extortion, persecution and serious human rights violations at the hands of the Assad regime and its affiliated militias. This was documented by Human Rights Watch in its October 2021 report, as those who returned to Syria between 2017 and 2021 from Lebanon and Jordan faced 21 cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, 13 cases of torture, 3 abductions, 5 cases of extrajudicial killings, 17 cases of enforced disappearance, and a case of sexual violence out of the 65 returnees or family members interviewed.
This article was prepared in collaboration with Alessandro Manzoni.