Human rights activists and more than ten civil society organizations on Sunday called for a halt to the implementation of a decision to remove Syrian refugees camps in Lebanon and for commitment to international agreements on the protection of refugees.
The NGOs said in a joint statement said that “the appeal came in response to reports about a decision taken at the top of the hierarchy of political power in Lebanon to remove Syrian refugees camps built of concrete. The decision will leave about 35,000 Syrian refugees without shelter as they will not be provided with any appropriate alternative.
“The majority of these refugees came from regions suffering from very poor conditions on the security and economic levels, such as Aleppo, Idlib and Homs,” the statement said. It added that many of the males in the camp had either fled from compulsory military service or expressed their opposition to the Assad regime in the conflict which has been ongoing since 2011.”
The statement stressed that “putting pressure on the Syrian refugees to return them forcibly to Syria not only contravenes the international humanitarian law, but also violates Lebanon’s international obligations.”
“The removal of the Syrian refugees camps in Lebanon will not have the desired effects as the Syrian refugees who accepted to live in concrete shacks in extremely dire weather and security conditions did so for fear of the worst – starvation, homelessness or torture.”
The statement urged everyone to shoulder their humanitarian responsibilities so as not to increase the misery of the refugees or the burden placed on humanitarian organizations and the Lebanese society.
The statement called for allowing NGOs as well as local and international organizations to “build tents meeting the local standards on other rented land as well as for removing the households from the shacks with concrete roofs and housing them in these tents. It stressed that these tents need to meet the standards of a safety, decency, and hygiene.
Human Rights Watch on Friday said: “Lebanese authorities shouldn’t deport anyone to Syria without first allowing them a fair opportunity to argue their case for protection and ensuring that they don’t face a real risk of persecution, torture, or other serious harm.”
Earlier this month, the Lebanese Supreme Defense Council issued a decision to remove hundreds of shacks and tents of Syrian refugees. The decision will enter into force on June 10. The UN refugee agency will have to provide alternative shelter as well as wood and tents for the Syrian refugees.
Since 2017, leading politicians in Lebanon aligned with the Hezbollah militia have increasingly called for the return of refugees to Syria, and the authorities have put pressure on UNHCR to organize returns despite the ongoing conflict in Syria. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Hurriya Press)