Syrian activists based in Lebanon have revealed that the Lebanese authorities’ promotion of the voluntary return of refugees is untrue and that what is taking place is a clear deportation process, even if some families agree to it, due to the harassment that has been inflicted on them over the years.
Journalist Samer Salloum said the Lebanese government intends to deport 850 Syrian families this year. The first batch started from the camps of Arsal, Akkar and the Middle Beqaa and included refugees from several regions of Syria.
The Syrian refugee Abu Mohammed said that the Lebanese authorities’ harassment of them and the easing of aid made them prefer the unknown to stay in the camps (referring to the dark fate that awaits them when they return to areas under the control of Assad’s militia). He added that his return to his town in Qalamoun in rural Damascus despite the great dangers it presents, is the only option left for him.
For his part, media activist Abu Majd al-Qalamouni explained that 335 families are supposed to return but the number has shrunk to 511 people (about a quarter) because some are wanted by the security services of Assad’s militia, so their return was postponed to next Wednesday. He pointed out that the Lebanese General Security sent lists of returnees to Assad’s intelligence to obtain approval, but it refused to return some names to Syria.
He added that returnees might be arrested sometime after they enter the country, as happened with returnees in 2017. Therefore, most of those registered are women, children and the elderly, while the rest categorically refused to return.
UN and human rights organizations have strongly criticized the return of Syrian refugees from Lebanon due to the unknown fate that awaits them and expressed concern that they will be subjected to serious violations at the hands of Syrian security.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.