Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday issued a report criticizing Lebanese municipalities for the unjustifiable expulsion of thousands of Syrian refugees from their homes since 2016.
The 57-page report, “Our Homes Are Not for Strangers’: Mass Evictions of Syrian Refugees by Lebanese Municipalities,” noted that expulsions by municipalities appeared discriminatory and lacked due process.
On Wednesday, around 500 Syrian refugees left Lebanon towards the town of Beit Jin south of Damascus. The evictions were organized by the Lebanese authorities and without interference from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
At least 13 municipalities in Lebanon have forcibly evicted at least 3,664 Syrian refugees from their homes and expelled them from the municipalities, apparently because of their nationality or religion, while another 42,000 refugees remain at risk of eviction, the global rights watchdog said.
The rights group’s report documented inconsistencies in the reasons municipalities have given for expelling Syrians and the failure of the central government to protect refugees’ rights. United Nations officials identified 3,664 such evictions from 2016 through the first quarter of 2018.
“While Lebanese municipal authorities make tepid claims that the evictions were based on housing regulation infractions, Human Rights Watch found the measures taken by these municipalities have been directed exclusively at Syrian nationals, and not Lebanese citizens or other foreign nationals,” HRW said.
The Syrian Coalition has previously called on the United Nations to take appropriate measures to protect the Syrian refugees in all neighboring countries, especially in Lebanon in accordance with international norms and laws on refugees around the world.
The Coalition rejected any attempts to justify forced evictions and mass expulsions of Syrian refugees as well as other forms of ill-treatment and discrimination against Syrian refugees in Lebanon. It stressed that these actions contravene the self-distancing policy the Lebanese government claims to adopt.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees in late 2017 said that the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon had fallen to less than one million for the first time since 2014. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)