Member of the Syrian Opposition Coalition’s (SOC) political committee and Director of the Office of Refugee Affairs, Salim Idris, said that the Lebanese authorities’ plan to forcibly return 6,000 Syrian refugees to regime-held areas contradicts the principle of non-refoulement. He stressed that the conditions for the voluntary, safe return have not been met in Syria yet, adding that Lebanon is ratcheting up pressure on Syrian refugees to return to the areas from which they fled.
Idris called on the Lebanese authorities to respect the international norms and conventions on the protection of refugees and the safeguarding of their rights. He held them responsible for any harm that may affect those forcibly returning to the areas under the control of the Assad regime, stressing that these areas cannot be safe with the presence of security services and sectarian militias.
Idris called on the UN Secretary-General, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to take swift action in response to these plans. He warned that Lebanon is forcing refugees to return to the slaughterhouses of the Assad regime, where they will be met with torture and various violations.
Lebanese Minister of the Displaced, Issam Sharafeddine, on Friday announced that the first convoy of Syrian refugees, comprising about 6,000 refugees, would depart Lebanon on Wednesday, and will be distributed to three border crossings.
Sharafeddine indicated that the refugees will leave through Al-Zamrani border crossing to the village of Al-Jarajir, through Joussiya border crossing to Homs, and through Al-Masnaa border crossing to Damascus.
The Lebanese minister pointed out that the file of the return of Syrian refugees was assigned to the Lebanese Director of Public Security, Abbas Ibrahim, with Sharafeddine in charge of assisting and providing the Public Security with lists of the names of the “displaced”.
The SOC had earlier stated that the Lebanese government’s plan to forcibly deport Syrian refugees to regime-held areas will put the lives of the returnees at a serious risk of murder, torture, and arrest. It stressed that the Assad regime is bent on punishing everyone who opposed its rule or fled the areas under its control.
(Source: SOC’s media department)