“Voluntary Return” of Refugees from Lebanon May Actually be Forced

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25 October 2022

Situation Assessment Paper

This past July, the Lebanese Minister of the Displaced in the caretaker government, Issam Sharaf El-Din, announced his refusal of the non-return of Syrian refugees to Syria, stating that “after the war ended it became safe” for them to return. This was part of his proposal regarding the Lebanese State’s plan to return and repatriate 15,000 Syrian refugees per month.

Minister Sharaf El-Din suggested to the President of the Lebanese Republic, Michel Aoun, that the proposed plan be accompanied by “a plan to form a tripartite committee with the Syrian state and the UNHCR – before the UNHCR denied through unofficial ways the validity of coordination between the Lebanese government and the UNHCR – and a four-way committee with Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan to achieve this return.”  According to his statements, it is expected that the first phase of this plan will start in early October as part of the “voluntary return” of Syrian refugees whose names were registered at the General Directorate of the Lebanese General Security and sent to the Ministry of Local Administration in the government of the Syrian regime.

At the same time, the Lebanese Prime Minister of the current caretaker government, Najib Mikati, believes that dealing with the issue of asylum for Syrians in Lebanon requires a “different approach” before the situation “escalates in a way that gets out of control”– seeing as the country has been facing, one of the most severe economic and financial crises for three years now. Syrian refugees in Lebanon have difficulty securing their basic needs due to (a) deteriorating economic and living conditions in the country, (b) scarcity of assistance, and (c) delayed response to their demands by UNHCR in Lebanon.
Read the full Assessment Paper:

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