HRW denounces eviction of Syria refugees in Lebanon

2018-04-20 18:04
(Picture via Web)

(Picture via Web)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Beirut - Human Rights Watch on Friday criticised Lebanese municipalities for what it called the unjustifiable expulsion of hundreds of Syrians from their homes since 2016, as sentiment against refugees simmers.

"At least 13 municipalities in Lebanon have forcibly evicted at least 3 664 Syrian refugees from their homes and expelled them from the municipalities, apparently because of their nationality or religion," from the start of 2016 through to the end of March this year, the New York-based rights group said.

Almost one million Syrians are registered as refugees in Lebanon, though many expect the real number is much higher.

The Mediterranean country's population stood at just four million before neighbouring Syria's civil war broke out in 2011, sending tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing across the border in search of safety.

Several politicians have blamed a flurry of social and economic woes in Lebanon on Syrian refugees, and calls for them to return have increased in the run-up to the country's first parliamentary elections in nearly a decade on May 6.

"Municipalities have no legitimate justification for forcibly evicting Syrian refugees if it amounts to nationality-based or religious discrimination," said Bill Frelick, refugee rights director at Human Rights Watch.

"Lebanese leaders should curb rhetoric that encourages or condones forced evictions, expulsions, and other discriminatory and harassing treatment of refugees in Lebanon," Frelick said.

Discrimination on religious basis

The evictions have caused refugees to lose income and property, and their children to miss school or drop out altogether, according to HRW, which spoke to 57 Syrians affected by the measures.

Some municipalities have claimed the evictions were based on housing regulation infractions such as tenants not registering their leases with them, HRW said.

But despite "widespread breaches by Lebanese citizens as well, the measures these municipalities have taken have been directed exclusively at Syrian nationals and not Lebanese citizens", it said.

HRW also pointed to discrimination on a religious basis, with most of the municipalities involved in forcibly evicting and expelling Syrian refugees predominantly populated by Christians.

All 57 interviewees who spoke to HRW identified as Muslim.

But, said HRW, "Lebanon's refugee-hosting fatigue has been exacerbated by a lack of international support" as well.

On Wednesday, around 500 Syrian refugees left southern Lebanon under an agreement between authorities in Beirut and Damascus to return them to their home country.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said it was aware of the returns but was not involved in the agreement, "considering the prevailing humanitarian and security situation in Syria".

Lebanon's foreign ministry accused UNHCR of "scaring the displaced from any return at this stage because of what it sees as an unstable security situation".

It criticised the UN agency's "renewed determination to refuse any positive signs for a return... despite the security situation in many Syrian towns currently being stable."

The ministry said this had led it to "re-evaluate" and "question" the UN agency's work.

Syria's war has killed more than 350 000 people and displaced millions since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

Read more on:    lebanon  |  syria

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.