Lebanon’s Refoulment of Syrian Refugees Sparks Outcry Over Human Rights Violations



In a distressing turn of events, Lebanon’s treatment of Syrian refugees has come under intense scrutiny following reports of persecution, displacement, and refoulment by the Lebanese government. Such actions have instilled fear and despair among Syrian asylum seekers, leading to tragic outcomes including suicides. Last month Lebanon’s abuses of Syrians in the country were documented by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The recent destruction of a camp for Syrian refugees by the Lebanese army, resulting in the displacement of 150 Syrian families, underscores the dire situation faced by these vulnerable individuals. Shockingly, the Lebanese Army has been implicated in handing over displaced Syrians to the Assad regime under the guise of “voluntary repatriation” – which has been rejected by most Syrians and human rights groups. Today, 330 Syrians were forcibly deported from Lebanon and are temporarily being detained at the Rural Development Center in Yabroud, northeastern Damascus.

“Death is more merciful than handing us over to Assad,” has become a rallying cry for Syrian prisoners languishing in Lebanese prisons like Roumieh. These prisoners, fearing for their lives and freedom, have appealed to the international community to intervene and prevent their deportation. Their concerns are not unfounded, as reports indicate that plans are underway by Lebanese authorities to turn over several Syrian prisoners to agents of the Assad regime, as the army did last year in a similar campaign of terror.

According to Al-Jumhuriya newspaper, the prison houses approximately 400 Syrian prisoners, including defectors from Assad regime forces, former members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) who fought during the Battle of Qusayr, alongside those who gave confessions under torture or were arrested due to mistaken identity. All of these prisoners have been cleared by Acting Director General of Public Security, Major General Elias Al-Bisari for surrender to the Assad regime once again spreading fear among the prisoners and their families.

Tragically, these fears have manifested in heartbreaking ways. In a recent incident, a young Syrian man, Bashar Wahid al-Muhammad, took his own life inside a refugee camp in the Central Bekaa Governorate of Lebanon. In a letter addressed to his mother, Bashar apologized for his decision to take his own life but cited unbearable living conditions and the harsh realities of life as driving factors behind his tragic choice. His death is not an isolated incident; it echoes the growing despair among Syrian youth in Lebanon, with cases of suicide emerging as a grim consequence of the uncertain and hostile environment faced by refugees fearing torture and murder under the criminal Assad regime.

The situation is further compounded by a resurgence of racism and xenophobia against Syrian refugees within Lebanon. Political parties have spearheaded movements advocating for the forced deportation of refugees, exacerbating their plight. Despite these alarming developments, there are voices within Lebanon and the international community vehemently opposing such actions, recognizing the inherent dangers faced by refugees upon their return to Syria.

Indeed, the risks awaiting refugees upon their return to Syria cannot be overstated. Reports indicate that those who have returned in recent years have been subjected to egregious human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests, forced conscription, and the confiscation of property by the Assad regime. These grim realities serve as a stark reminder of the perils faced by Syrian refugees, both in Lebanon and those given to the Assad regime.


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