Return of Syrian refugees in Lebanon to their country between political propaganda, lack of seriousness

The majority of the political forces in Lebanon are exploiting the Syrian refugee file for material reasons. The Lebanese believe that the grant given by the President of the European Commission and the President of Cyprus is a bribe to the Lebanese State in order to keep the Syrians in Lebanon. In the view of the observers, cooperation between the Lebanese and Syrian authorities has become a priority in resolving the refugee crisis.

Return of Syrian refugees in Lebanon to their country between political propaganda, lack of seriousness
24 May 2024   07:59

For nearly a week, Lebanon resumed its so-called "voluntary return" flights of Syrian refugees, including in the first of 460 refugees, who returned to rural Homs and Qalmun in coordination with the government of Damascus. The border crossing of Jasla was set in al-Qa'a town aside in the direction of Homs and its countryside and the Wadi Hamid al-Zamrani crossing in Arsal towards al-Qalomun, according to official sources.

The aggressive security campaigns carried out by the Lebanese Ministry of the Interior and Municipalities to combat illegal Syrian violations and labour continue through the closure of the general security of institutions, companies and shops run and invested by illegal Syrian workers.

Position of human rights organizations on the Syrian refugee file

Lebanese sources familiar with the Syrian refugee file have confirmed to ANHA's agency that the return of Syrian refugees tends to give political publicity. There is no serious and practical plan for their return. What is further complicated is the fact that European countries continue to support the survival of Syrian refugees in Lebanon in exchange for financial assistance and donations, the latest of which is the donation of Euro1 billion provided by the European Commission to Lebanon.

In a joint statement, human rights organizations, including International Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, expressed their fear that European Union assistance to Lebanon would lead to "forced return of refugees, thus making Lebanon and the European Union complicit in violations of the principle of international law on non-refoulement, which obliges States not to forcibly return persons to States where they are at risk of persecution or other serious human rights violations."

Syrian presence between displacement and asylum

Journalist Caroline Bazzi, speaking to ANHA's agency on the description of the Syrian presence, said that there was no clear description. Some were called displaced persons, which applied only to those who moved from one region to another within a country, refugees, which was the case of those who had left their land for political reasons or the outbreak of war, i.e. those who did not find that their country was protecting them, and therefore sought refuge in other countries, but with regard to Lebanon, it was not a country that could be an alternative home to refugees, especially since Lebanon had not signed or was not a party to the 1951 World Refugee Convention.

"There must therefore be an explicit and clear understanding of the Syrian presence in Lebanon, and we must also speak in the same context of the fact that Syrian asylum in Lebanon is between legality and illegality. Lebanese public security has asked UNHCR to stop registering Syrians to enter Lebanon in 2015, given that it is no longer political but economic. Today, the number of Syrians in Lebanon cannot be estimated between legality and illegality, especially since illegal crossings are open and uncontrollable, and it is not known whether there is any capacity or will to control Lebanese security and the Lebanese State."

For UNHCR, the number of Syrians in Lebanon is 800,000, while for the Lebanese authorities more than 2 million refugees, or one third of the Lebanese population, Lebanon is the country that receives the highest proportion of refugees on its territory relative to its population.

Syrian displacement between racism and hate speech

Caroline Bazzi recently pointed out that some of the political forces that were demanding the protection of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and their non-refoulement, even on a voluntary basis, are now demanding their return to Syria. Unfortunately, the majority of the political forces in Lebanon had taken advantage of that for material reasons. A few weeks earlier, a minister had called for the opening of illegal immigration to Europe by sea, i.e. to Cyprus, which had prompted the President of the European Commission and the President of Cyprus to visit Lebanon and to grant a grant of Euro1 billion in order to deter any illegal migration to Cyprus, which had been prepared by the Lebanese as a bribe to the Lebanese State in order to keep the Syrians in Lebanon."

Caroline Bazzi noted that the Lebanese Government, which had not already drawn up a clear or serious plan to regulate the presence of refugees in Lebanon, under a collapsed economic system, certainly could not afford the Syrian residents, and noted: "But we cannot deny that everyone living in Lebanon has been and continues to be affected by the economic crisis that began in 2019."

Cooperation between the Lebanese and Syrian authorities in the peace of priorities for resolving the refugee crisis

Caroline Bazzi said: "There is a group of Syrians who visit Syria from time to time and return to Lebanon, i.e. the status of asylum, especially political status, does not apply to them, and therefore their return is linked to economic reasons. Here again, the official Lebanese authorities bear responsibility for this imbalance."

Caroline Bazzi stressed that the reality of the Syrians in Lebanon as the reality of the Lebanese, the majority, was in severe economic distress. Many refugees lived in camps that were not protected by the cold winter or the summer heat, and children born in Lebanon were denied education, especially those who had not been registered; their parents had arrived illegally in Lebanon.

In order to put an end to the tragedy of the Lebanese and Syrian peoples, Caroline Bazzi indicated that the Lebanese Government must formulate a serious and feasible plan for the resolution of the illegal asylum file in Lebanon. The authorities of the Damascus Government must be urged to cooperate in order to reach a realistic humanitarian end that would satisfy all the parties and that no people of the two sides would bear their burdens at the expense of the other.

T/ Satt.