Urgent Appeal: Saving Refugees from the Risks of Forced Eviction is a Must

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Beirut – Lebanon

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Since the start of 2022, Access Center for Human Rights (ACHR) documented six individual cases of forced eviction and more than three mass cases and continues to follow up on tens of cases threatened with eviction. These cases constitute a clear violation of Lebanese law that requires legitimate reasons for eviction, provided that an official notice is given within a reasonable time. These reasons include: the tenant’s failure to pay rent, and/or the owner’s wish to change the use of the place, and/or the necessity to evacuate an area for security reasons.

The forced eviction of refugees leads to great material and moral losses, including the loss of job opportunities, the interruption of education, the difficulty of finding alternative housing, and the increase of other violations by the host community and non-state armed groups against refugees, as ACHR monitored cases of severe beatings due to the increase in societal violence during forced evictions of refugees living in homes and groups residing in refugee camps.

Due to the Lebanese General Security’s requirement of valid legal residency to file an official complaint, none of the refugees who were subjected to violations submitted any complaints to state authorities, noting that about 84 percent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon do not have legal residency as a result of the restrictive imposed conditions, despite that the State Shura Council had annulled the Lebanese General Security decision issued in 2015, that had restricted the residency conditions.

Finally, the economic crisis does not absolve Lebanon from respecting its international obligations related to public rights and freedoms. Although the “right to housing” enjoys international recognition and was mentioned in several international conventions and treaties, the Lebanese authorities fail to respect these obligations by complicating camp relocation procedures and not holding accountable the perpetrators of violations associated with forced evictions.

Thus, Access Center for Human Rights (ACHR) addresses the Lebanese authorities with a request to take the necessary measures publicly and stop the forced eviction practices and to seriously search for solutions for the mass eviction crisis. ACHR also officially calls the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to take serious action regarding this issue and not to evade its responsibilities toward refugee protection. ACHR calls for the following:

To the Lebanese authorities:

  • Halt forced eviction practices against refugees from their homes and camps.
  • Ensure the provision of shelter and decent living conditions, as a necessity to achieve sustainable development in the country, in cases of camp evictions while giving the residents a reasonable period to evacuate.
  • Establish a national program to observe evictions, in coordination with the Ministry of Social Affairs, to identify families at risk of official eviction.
  • Provide those evicted with necessities in their new places of relocation, such as schools and hospitals.

To the UN Refugee Agency:

  • Work with the Lebanese authorities to combat hate speech through awareness campaigns in coordination with the concerned ministries.
  • Remind of the UN and international community findings that Syria is not currently a safe country for returns.
  • Immediate and urgent intervention to provide the necessary support and prevent mass displacement of refugees.
  • Create effective communication channels to respond to the issues pursued by civil society organizations, especially the Protection Department.

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