Beirut – According to security officials and a humanitarian source, Lebanon has deported scores of Syrians back to the war-torn nation they fled, as anti-Syrian sentiment rises amid a grave economic crisis.
According to a relative, one of the deported Syrians was an army defector who had been warned that “his life is in danger.”
According to an army official who spoke to AFP under the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media, “the army has deported more than 50 Syrians from Lebanon in the past two weeks.”
Numerous Syrians, according to a different security officer, were removed.
They said that the army intelligence unit of Lebanon had been harshly prosecuting illegal Syrians, detaining them, and then passing them over to border guards who evicted them from Lebanon.
After the savage repression of anti-regime rallies in 2011 that started the country’s civil war, hundreds of thousands of Syrians fled to the neighbouring country of Lebanon.
According to authorities, Lebanon is home to almost two million Syrian refugees, while only about 830,000 of them are officially registered with the UN.
Lebanese authorities have long advocated for the repatriation of Syrian refugees, and they have undertaken many repatriation initiatives that they claim are voluntary but that human rights organisations claim are forced.
Rights organisations dispute the notion that refugee returns to Syria are secure and claim that some refugees have experienced persecution.
The army official responded to the action by saying, “The army’s detention centres are full,” and that other security organisations have declined to accept the detained migrants.
Therefore, he continued, “the army had to take this action and put them outside Lebanese borders.”
In addition, some of the evicted refugees had returned to Lebanon with the aid of smugglers who charged them $100 per person, according to the security and army officials, who claimed that Lebanese authorities had not coordinated the effort with Damascus.
A source from the humanitarian sector told AFP that since the beginning of April, there have been more army intelligence raids on Syrian communities in Beirut and the Mount Lebanon region.
According to them, 450 Syrians had been detained and at least 66 had been deported with certainty.
According to the insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media, “at least five raids have happened so far in 2023.”
Some host countries have tried to deport refugees after the Damascus regime regained control of much of Syria, citing a largely peaceful end to hostilities.
The World Bank has ranked Lebanon’s economic crisis, which began in 2019, as one of the worst in modern history.