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Lebanese authorities “forcibly” deported 2,500 Syrian refugees in three months (Amnesty International)

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Lebanese authorities have forcibly deported some 2,500 Syrian refugees over the past three months, Amnesty International said Tuesday, calling for an immediate halt to deportations.

Lebanon’s Supreme Council of Defense, which keeps its decisions confidential, authorized in April the Lebanese General Security Service to deport any Syrian who illegally entered the country.

Pursuant to the decision, between May 13 and August 9, 2,474 Syrians were forcibly deported to Lebanon, according to Amnesty International, citing an official letter from the General Security and the Ministry of Presidential Affairs.

“We urge the Lebanese authorities to urgently stop the deportations and the Supreme Council of Defense to reverse its relevant decision,” said Lynn Maalouf, director of the Middle East research at the organization.

“Any attempts to forcibly return refugees are a clear violation of Lebanon’s non-refoulement obligations,” she said.

The Syrian war displaced millions of people. Lebanon hosts, according to the authorities, 1.5 million Syrians, while the United Nations reports about one million registered.

Lebanese public security organizes mass returns, which he describes as “voluntary”, under which more than 325,000 refugees have been returned to Syria, according to his data. But humanitarian organizations suggest that the number of returnees is much smaller, and speaks of documenting “forced” deportations.

In May, five human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, denounced the deportation of at least 16 Syrians from Beirut airport within a day after “brief” procedures, although a number of them were registered as refugees and feared to be repatriated.

International and human rights organizations are unanimous that conditions in Syria are ill-equipped to receive the fugitive returnees, amid reports of arrests and a market for conscription, as well as the deteriorating economic situation and destruction of infrastructure.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon are facing increasing pressure, including forcing refugees to demolish cement rooms they have built to replace tents where they were staying, curfews in some areas or difficulties in obtaining work permits or legal residency.

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