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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid