Despite constant warnings from both the UNHCR and numerous human rights groups regarding the unsafe conditions in Syria and the danger of systemic reprisals against refugees by the Assad regime, including, imprisonment, rape, torture, and even murder, Lebanese forces have recently arrested and or deported hundreds of Syrians – including over the Eid holiday.
“Syrian refugees have regularly faced torture, sexual violence and enforced disappearance upon return to Syria,” one activist warned, yet despite this, refugees were handed over to Assad’s military on the border, placing them back in the hands of the Assad regime from whom they initially fled. Amnesty International wrote, “In enthusiastically facilitating these returns, the Lebanese authorities are knowingly putting Syrian refugees at risk of suffering from heinous abuse and persecution upon their return to Syria,” many human rights groups have stated that the forceful return of engendered refugees is a violation of “non-refoulement legislation” and the International Convention Against Torture.
Over the last two weeks, corresponding with the last days of Ramadan, considered to be from the most sacred days, and over the following Eid holiday, Lebanese officials and security forces, including the military, have arrested Syrian refugees, forcefully returning them to Assad-controlled Syrian territory. Lebanese military sources have said that around 450 refugees were arrested with at least 66 confirmed cases of deportation. According to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR), at least 39 Syrian refugees were arrested by the Assad regime following their forceful expulsion from Lebanon.
According to the UN Lebanon hosts over a million Syrian refugees, 90% of whom “live in extreme poverty” and are subject to increasing cases of exploration, victimization and abuse by both Lebanese authorities and residents. In spite of the unfavorable conditions in the squalid camps, many prefer to risk their lives by returning to Assad-controlled Syria.