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Human Rights Violations Against Syrians in Lebanon

The increasing human rights violations against Syrians in Lebanon recently have raised significant concerns among human rights organizations and the international community. Lebanese authorities have been arbitrarily detaining, torturing, and forcibly returning Syrians to Syria, even in cases where they face a well-founded risk of persecution if returned. Human Rights Watch has documented several cases of forcible deportations, including of a Syrian army defector and an opposition activist, by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the General Directorate of General Security. In addition, the Lebanese military’s intelligence unit has been implicated in the brief detention and alleged torture of a Syrian man who participated in a solidarity protest for women in Gaza. These actions violate Lebanon’s obligations under international human rights law, including the UN Convention Against Torture and the principle of non-refoulment.

Lebanese ministers and political officials have called for the return of Syrians in Lebanon, fueling ongoing violence and xenophobia against Syrians. Numerous reports indicate that Syrians in Lebanon have faced beatings, eviction demands, and discriminatory curfews, which unlawfully restrict their right to freedom of movement. Local authorities and municipalities have also imposed measures that limit Syrian refugees’ ability to find alternative shelter.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reported thousands of forced deportations and pushbacks of Syrians from Lebanon to Syria in 2023 alone. An atmosphere of hostility and fear has been created for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, leading to anxiety, panic, and a reluctance to leave their homes. The situation is particularly concerning given the ongoing conflict and human rights abuses in Syria, where returnees often face arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, and enforced disappearance.

Human rights organizations have called on Lebanon to halt the summary deportations of Syrian refugees and to respect its obligations under international law. Donor governments funding the LAF and General Security Directorate have also been urged to pressure Lebanon to end the unlawful deportations and violations of Syrians’ rights. It is crucial for these donor countries to ensure that their funding is not being used to commit such rights violations.

Efforts to support Syrian refugees in Lebanon should focus on reforming residency regulations, reintroducing UNHCR registration, waiving residency renewal fees, and ending the detention and deportation of refugees based on expired residency documents. The international community also needs to fulfill its obligations by providing increased assistance, particularly through resettlement and alternative pathways programs, to help Lebanon cope with the high number of Syrian refugees in the country. It is essential to prioritize the protection and well-being of Syrian refugees and to address the root causes of their displacement.

As Rights Defenders, we see the increasing human rights violations against Syrians in Lebanon as a serious source of concern. Lebanese authorities must end the arbitrary detention, torture, and forced deportation of Syrians, and the international community must continue to advocate for the rights and protection of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.


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