Human Rights Watch on Friday condemned Lebanon’s order for Syrian refugees to demolish their hard shelters as tantamount to “illegitimate pressure” on them to return to their war-torn country.
“This crackdown on housing code violations should be seen for what it is, which is illegitimate pressure on Syrian refugees to leave Lebanon,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) refugee rights director Bill Frelick said on Friday.
“Many of those affected have real reasons to fear returning to Syria, including arrests, torture and ill-treatment by Syrian intelligence branches,” he said.
“The demolition order is one of many recent actions to crank up pressure on Syrian refugees to go back,” Frelick said. “They include ramped up arrests and deportations, closing of shops, and confiscation or destruction of unlicensed vehicles, on top of other long-standing restrictions, including curfews and evictions, and barriers to refugee education, legal residency, and work authorization.”
“Lebanon shouldn’t create pressures that cumulatively coerce refugees to return involuntarily in conditions that are not conducive to a safe and dignified return.” The decision of the Lebanese authorities will affect some 35,000 Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, according to the UN refugees agency.
In late June, ten Lebanese civil society organizations launched a campaign against racism and to show solidarity with the Syrian refugees and their rights in Lebanon. They slammed the fueling of hostility and hatred against refugees as they called for respect for international conventions and treaties and the enhancement of the contribution of refugees to the Lebanese economy.
The signatories demanded the filing of complaints at law courts as they urged human rights organizations to take action to stop the campaigns targeting the Syrian refugees in Lebanon. They also stressed the importance of respecting the laws that criminalize racism.
The Syrian Coalition’s Department of Refugee Affairs has recently held meetings with lawyers, journalists, activists and politicians concerned about the affairs of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. It discussed with them the violations against refugees and ways to take legal action to put an end to such violations and provide protection for refugees and restore their rights. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)