News / Middle East

Lebanon Says Syrians Who Return Will Lose Refugee Status

Syrian woman prepare to move their home at the request of the land owner at a refugee camp in the east Lebanese town of Anjar near the Syrian border, May 13, 2014.
Syrian woman prepare to move their home at the request of the land owner at a refugee camp in the east Lebanese town of Anjar near the Syrian border, May 13, 2014.
Reuters
Lebanon has told more than a million Syrian refugees they will lose their refugee status if they cross back into Syria, two days before a presidential election in which Syrian officials have urged many to vote at polling stations on the border.

Tens of thousands of Syrians cast ballots at their Beirut embassy in an early round of expatriate voting last week and embassy staff said those who were unable to participate could vote at polling stations just inside Syria on Tuesday.
        
The scale of turnout at the embassy and the vocal displays of support for President Bashar al-Assad angered Assad's Lebanese opponents, who said any refugees who took part should be sent back to Syria.
        
Lebanon's Interior Ministry made no mention of the election in its warning to the Syrian refugees, but said it was acting to "prevent any friction or mutual provocation'' between Syrians and their Lebanese host communities.

"All displaced Syrians and those registered with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees are asked to refrain from entering Syria as of June 1, 2014, under penalty of losing their refugee status in Lebanon,'' the ministry said.
        
The three-year-old conflict has deepened political divisions in Lebanon and fuelled violence including bombings, rocket attacks and gunbattles. The Hezbollah-dominated March 8 political coalition supports Assad while its March 14 opponents have backed the rebels trying to topple him.

The presence of a million Syrians escaping a seemingly endless conflict has also raised fears that Lebanon's 4 million people may end up hosting a permanent refugee population several times larger than the Palestinian influx which helped destabilize the country before its 1975-1990 civil war.

UNHCR spokesperson Dana Sleiman said the ministry's message had been relayed to the refugees, but that the agency had told the Lebanese government that refugees who return to Syria may still fear persecution or face serious danger.
        
"Some Syrian refugees return briefly to their home country, including to renew their documents, check on elderly or sick family members or property, and to see if the situation in their villages is safe enough for return,'' she said.
        
"Some refugees also face pressure or coercion to return and are not necessarily returning voluntarily. Some have been told if they do not return to vote they will never be re-admitted to Syria when conditions are conducive to safe and voluntary return.''
        
Assad is widely expected to win a third seven-year term in Tuesday's election, which is being held in the midst of a civil war which has killed 160,000 people, destroyed large parts of Syrian cities and driven nearly 3 million refugees abroad.
        
Large swathes of the country remain out of Assad's control although his forces, backed by Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group and Iraqi Shi'ite fighters, have forced the Syrian rebels and foreign jihadis to retreat in central Syria.
        
The conflict erupted after Assad, whose family has ruled Syria for four decades, used force to crush protesters who took to the streets to demand change in March 2011.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid