Sheikho Warns of Covert Agreement between Lebanon & Russia to Force Syrian Refugees to Return
The past few days have seen increased attacks on Syrian refugees in Lebanon, with a member of the Syrian Coalition describing them as “systematic” and warning of covert agreement between the Lebanese government and Russia.
The mistreatment of Syrian refugees, which included arrests and closures of shops, coincided with statements by Lebanese officials targeting Syrian refugees. The anti-refugees rhetoric amounting to provocation of hatred culminated in the killing of a 25-year-old Syrian refugee who was stabbed to death by a Lebanese man in the town of Talia in the Lebanese province of Baalbek.
Amal Sheikho, head of the Syrian Coalition’s Commission on Refugees and Displaced Persons said that “any attempt by the Lebanese government to return Syrian refugees to their country will be risky.” She added: “The reasons that led Syrian civilians to flee their country still exist as was confirmed by local and international human rights which said that killings, arrests and torture still exist.
Sheikho warned of the "frantic attempts" by some Lebanese parties to force the Syrian refugees to return before a political solution is reached. She underscored that these attempts can be categorized as part of “the forced return and violate the principles of international legality on dealing with refugees."
Moreover, Sheikho rejected Russia’s claims about giving guarantees for the safety of refugees after their return “as past experience have proved Russia as a biased party and cannot rein in the actions of the Assad regime or the Iranian terrorist militias.” She stressed that the only framework for resolving the issue of Syrian refugees is the United Nations in parallel with a just political solution.
Sheikho pointed out that no one can forget or overlook the role of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia in aiding the Assad regime in the commission of war crimes, the destruction of whole cities, towns and villages, and the mass forced displacement of their population.
Sheikho called on decision makers in the Lebanese government and other public and humanitarian officials to stand up to “the unjust project aimed at forcing the Syrian refugees to return to the hellish security services and the criminal institution that have decades-long history of intimidation of Lebanon and the Lebanese people.
Sheikho reminded all other international organizations, particularly the United Nations, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and all relevant international organizations of their responsibilities towards the Syrian refugees. She urged them to take action to stop any attempts or pressures against Syrian refuges to force them return. She said that the return must be voluntary any away from coercion or intimidation. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)