Almost 2,500 Syrian refugees have been “forcibly deported” from Lebanon to their war-torn country over the past three months, a rights group has said, urging authorities to “immediately” halt the expulsions.
In a statement on Tuesday, Amnesty International cited data from Lebanon’s General Security agency and the Lebanese government which said that about 2,447 Syrians had been expelled between mid-May and August 9.
“On 13 May 2019, the General Security Organization in Lebanon started implementing the decision taken by Higher Defense Council, an inter-ministerial body in charge of national defense policy and headed by the President of the Republic, to start deporting refugees who entered Lebanon “illegally” after the date of 24 April 2019.”
“We urge the Lebanese authorities to stop these deportations as a matter of urgency,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty’s Middle East research director.
“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,” the rights watchdog group said.
Amnesty went on: “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.”
In a report released in mid-January, the Syrian Network for Human Rights said that the Assad regime still poses a “barbaric” threat to the lives of refugees if they return home. It said that it registered the disappearance of 638 refugees and the deaths of 15 others under torture, the majority of whom were deported from Lebanon.
The Network pointed out that the Assad regime has detained at least 1,916 returnees since 2014, including 219 children and 157 women. Of those, 1,132 were released, while 638 others have since then been forcibly disappeared and 15 others died under torture. (Source: Syrian National Coalition’s Media Department)