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Syrian refugees in Lebanon 'threatened with deportation'

Syrian refugees in Lebanon are being put at risk [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 June, 2019

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Syrian refugees in Lebanon are being deported to regime-controlled areas under the pretext of them being 'safe' despite the risk being posed to their lives.
Syrian refugees in Lebanon are living in constant fear of state violence and the threat of deportation, as more get sent back under the pretext of them choosing to return to what are perceived as safe areas of Syria.

Refugee camps are at constant risk of being attacked and even burned down in a gruesome attempt to discourage Syrian refugees from settling permanently.

The Lebanese government had given Arsal refugees until 9 June to demolish shelters made of other materials than timber and plastic sheeting.

On Monday, the deadline was extended to the end of the month, but Abu Mohamed was already busy tearing down the single room he and his family called home for several years.

"We lived in this room, we were content. We told ourselves that some people dream of having a shelter like this one," the 37-year-old told AFP.

He and his wife and their five children have already moved into a friend's nearby tent, together with other refugees.

"The tent is tiny, barely big enough for them. Now we're four families in there, with a total of 16 children," said Abu Mohamed, a red and white headscarf protecting him from the sun.

Rights watchdog Amnesty International has deplored the Beirut government's treatment of Syrian refugees.

"Life for many Syrian refugees in Lebanon is marked by fear, constant intimidation and feelings of hopelessness. Despite the Lebanese government's claims that returns to Syria are voluntary, incidents like the attack on Deir al-Ahmar show that life is becoming intolerable for refugees, leaving many with no choice but to return to Syria," said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International's Middle East Research Director.

The organisation has researched how unlawful evictions, curfews, constant raids on refugee camps and mass arrests are making life unbearable for many refugees in Lebanon, forcing many to return to Syria despite the ongoing dangers. 

"By failing to ensure refugees are protected from attacks, harassment or intimidation and imposing unfair and restrictive policies that make their lives more difficult, the Lebanese authorities are fuelling an environment that effectively coerces refugees to return to Syria, where they could be at risk of interrogation on arrival, torture, enforced disappearance and other violations and abuses," said Lynn Maalouf.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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