Internet restriction…Refugee camps under security surveillance

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Since the beginning of October 2022, the Lebanese army intelligence informed heads of camps in Lebanon of the decision forbidding internet installations in camps. This information was communicated after raids conducted in camps or through peaceful communication. 

Syrian refugees in Lebanese camps live in insecurity due to their lack of access to information and internet services that can clarify any decision they wish to take on a legal or personal level and any decision that might affect their future security, most notably regarding the voluntary return. 

The multiple raids conducted by Lebanese Security forces on Syrian refugee camps in several areas in Lebanon to confiscate radio and TV devices, phones, internet devices, and satellites isolate refugees from their environment and the world around them. It creates a disconnected climate that deprives them of their right to communication and freedom of expression and hinders their access to information, which could influence their decisions. It also limits their access to charity, human rights, education, and health services. 

Digital rights are an extension of rights stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Their main goal is to guarantee refugees access to the Internet. Freedom of opinion and expression and access to information helps refugees avoid misinformation that can influence their life-changing decisions and affect the fate of their return to their areas of origin. 

According to what Access Center for Human Rights (ACHR) monitored, many factors hinder refugees’ access to information and internet services in Lebanese refugee camps, which prompts some of them to return to Syria despite the security risk. One of these factors is Lebanon’s fragile electricity infrastructure, non-existent in some areas or barely sufficient in others, and the high cost of communication services. Also, raids conducted by the Lebanese Army Intelligence on camps and their confiscation of all internet and communication devices are one of the main reasons limiting refugees’ access to digital rights. 

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