Human Rights & Public Liberties

Human Rights & Public Liberties

Published on: 13 Jan, 2021

Human Rights Watch: Syrian refugees returning to Syria face human rights abuses

Published on: 20 October, 2021
Syrian refugees in a camp in Lebanon {Reuters]

Syrian refugees in a camp in Lebanon {Reuters]

Spread over 27 countries, Syrian refugees are the world’s largest refugee population.

On Wednesday Human Rights Watch issued a report, ‘Our Lives are like Death: Syrian Refugee returns from Lebanon and Jordan’ which states that those refugees who returned to Syria between 2017 and 2021 from Jordan and Lebanon faces grave human rights abuses and persecution at the hands of the Syrian government and affiliated militias.

Whereas Lebanon and Jordan initially welcomed refugees the position changed as the number of refugees increased and discriminatory curfews, evictions, arrests, and other restrictions on legal residency and access to employment and education.

According to the report Lebanon has pursued an ‘aggressive returns agenda’  designed to make Syrian refugees’ lives difficult, and to pressure them to leave.

As part of the restrictions imposed on Syrian refugees, they have been forced to dismantle their concrete shelters, imposed curfews and evicted refugees from some municipalities, obstructed the renewal of residency permits, and summarily deported thousands of Syrian refugees.

Lebanon’s economic collapse has left 90 percent of Syrians in extremely poverty and relying on credit and mounting debt to survive.

Whereas Jordan has not pushed for any forced large-scale repatriation the position of Syrian refugees are deteriorating in Jordan because of policies such summary deportations and the exclusion of refugees from certain categories of employment.

According to Nadia Hardman, a refugee rights researcher at Human Rights Watch the attitude of the Lebanese authorities towards refugees changed in 2019 when new decrees were issued. Speaking to Al Jazeera Hardman said: ‘We acknowledge that Lebanon and Jordan carry a high burden of refugees but there is no excuse to violate international law. The principle of non refoulement is a principle of international law.’

Hardman says the international community has a responsibility to assist Lebanon and Jordan.

According to Human Rights Watch countries hosting Syrian refugees should adhere to the position that Syria is unsafe for returns and immediately halt any forced returns.

Human Rights Watch further recommends an immediate moratorium on all forced returns of Syrians.