The Minister of Interior and Municipalities of Lebanon’s caretaker government, Bassam Mawlawi, has issued a letter to the General Directorate of the Internal Security Forces to prevent a demonstration in front of the United Nations. Syrian refugees had called for the demonstration, but the minister has cited concerns about the invitations being sent through social media. The demonstrations were aimed at the European Commission and other commissions on Lebanese territory to denounce their silence on arbitrary deportations.
In Lebanon, the Progressive Socialist Party, led by Lebanese leader Walid Jumblatt, has criticized the forced deportation of Syrian refugees to their country. The party has called on the country’s authorities to adhere to human rights principles.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs’ caretaker, Hector Hajjar, tweeted that the recently deported Syrians had entered the country illegally. Reports suggest that the Lebanese authorities have increased the number of raids, with at least five raids launched in 2023.
Lebanese lawyer Tariq Shandab has claimed that 150 Syrian refugees who were located between the Lebanese-Syrian border have been arrested recently. He warned against handing them over to Damascus.
The Minister of the Displaced in the Lebanese caretaker government, Issam Sharaf al-Din, has stated that the deportation plan, which involves 15,000 Syrian refugees per month, is “frozen by a political decision.” He added that the recent campaign to deport Syrian refugees is limited to around seventy people who have been involved in theft, including electric wires and the bell of St. Anthony’s Church in Broumana. Sharaf El-Din also noted in an interview with the al-Hurra news agency that the deported Syrian refugees in the campaign “had entered Lebanon illegally.”
The Lebanese Access Center for Human Rights (ACHR) has condemned the recent mass forced deportations, which were carried out arbitrarily in violation of the legal and political status of refugees in Syria and in flagrant disregard of international human rights law. The center called on the Lebanese government to respect the rights of all individuals, including asylum seekers, and protect them from violence and persecution as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international law.
The organization has stated that Article 31 of the Lebanese Foreigners Law states that “if it is decided to expel a political refugee, it is not permissible to deport him/her to the territory of a country where there is fear for his life or freedom.” It also added that there are fears that the deportees will be exposed to the risk of torture or persecution at the hands of the Syrian regime upon their return.
Deputy Director of the Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa in the organization, Aya Majzoub, has emphasized the need to protect Syrian refugees in Lebanon from arbitrary raids and illegal deportation. She added that it is not permissible to return any refugee to a place where their life is in danger. She also criticized the military’s decision to deport refugees without due process or the opportunity to challenge their deportation in court.