The Syrian Coalition’s Department of Refugees Affairs held a teleconference with former Lebanese Minister of State for Refugee Affairs Mouin Merehbi on Tuesday.
The meeting discussed the situation of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, especially in the camps in and around the town of Arsal. Head of the Department, Amal Sheikho, said that one of the major reasons why Syrian refugees are still in Lebanon is the Hezbollah militia’s aiding of the Assad regime in its brutal war against Syrian civilians and the mass forced displacement of Syrians from their homes in Qalamoun, Quysair and other areas. Sheikho noted that the Hezbollah militia is to blame of the ongoing tragedy and the suffering of Syrian refugees.
Sheikho added that the Assad regime has avidly sought to displace Syrian civilians with the help of the Iranian-backed terrorist militias since day one. She said that these actions are part of a wider plan to force civilians out of their homes and bring about a demographic change and to exploit the refugee crisis to put pressure on the international community.
Moreover, Sheikho called for providing Syrian refugees in Lebanon and other countries with international protection and confront attempts to exploit the issue of refugees to achieve political gains. She also stressed the refugees’ right to voluntary, safe return under the supervision of the United Nations as was stipulated in international resolutions on Syria, most notably the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolution 2254.
Head of the Coalition’s Department of Media and Communications Ahmed Ramadan said that the Coalition is seeking to hold meetings with representatives of Lebanese parties and forces as well as media personalities and intellectuals to explain the opposition’s view that there is no intention to resettle the Syrian refugees in Lebanon and to reassert their keenness to return to Syria in accordance with international resolutions.
Member of the Coalition’s political committee Abdul Majid Barakat stressed that the Coalition considers that the true place of refugees is in their country. He voiced concern about plans to forcibly deport the Syrian refugees and rounding them up in detention camps in various areas across Syria. He also expressed concern that the young people will be forcibly recruited be used as a cannon fodder in the regime’s war against the Syrian people.
For his part, Merehbi said that the Russian plan for the return of the Syrian refugees would not ensure the return of refugees to their areas of origin but to camps outside the cities. He considered this as unacceptable, stressing that he discussed the issue of refugees with Russian officials in several meetings.
Merehbi pointed out that the recent repatriation of refugees does not meet the UN standards calling for the safe and voluntary return. He added that he had listened to testimonies and obtained documents confirming that refugees returning from Lebanon had been brutally murdered by the Assad forces. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)