Lebanon: Authorities must immediately halt deportation of Syrian refugees

New data shows 2,500 Syrian refugees forcibly returned in the past three months

Almost 2,500 Syrian refugees have been forcibly deported back to Syria in the past three months, according to official communication obtained by Amnesty International.

On 13 May, the General Security Organisation in Lebanon started implementing the decision taken by the country’s Higher Defense Council to start deporting refugees who entered Lebanon “illegally” after the date of 24 April this year.

Between then and 9 August, 2,447 Syrians have been returned, according to a letter sent by the General Security and Minister of Presidential Affairs to Amnesty International.

Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

“We urge the Lebanese authorities to stop these deportations as a matter of urgency, and the Higher Defense Council to cancel its related decision.

“As long as independent monitoring bodies are not allowed access to Syria - including the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria - in order to assess the security situation for the safe return of refugees, there is no way of determining whether returnees would be at real risk of serious human rights violations once back in Syria.

“Such access and monitoring mechanism inside Syria would be a first step in setting the process for returns. In the meantime, while risks upon return cannot be determined, any attempts to forcibly return refugees is a clear violation of Lebanon’s non-refoulement obligations.

“We reiterate our call to the international community to share the responsibility for refugees with host countries, including Lebanon, mainly by re-activating their resettlement programs and by using their leverage to call for access to independent monitors in Syria.”

Syrian refugees in Lebanon

As of 31 July 2019 there were 926,717 Syrian refugees in Lebanon registered with UNHCR and 31,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria registered with the UN Relief and Works Agency. In addition, the Lebanese government claims that around 550,000 live in Lebanon unregistered.

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