The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

Search This Blog

May 31, 2011

The Daily Star - Syrian refugees begin to trickle back across the border - May 31, 2011

By Antoine Amrieh
The Daily Star

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Syrians who fled unrest by crossing into north Lebanon have begun to trickle back across the border, as relative calm returns to their towns and villages.
In the village of Boqaya, where many Lebanese provided shelter for Syrians escaping violence, some Syrians are ready to return to check on their homes.
Boqaya mukhtar Rami Khazaal said some Syrians decided to return to Syria after the head of the municipality of the Syrian town of Talkalakh paid them a visit in Lebanon.
Several hundred Syrian families fled their homes two weeks ago, entering Lebanon through illegal border crossings, as the noise of live ammunition and shelling, possibly from the Syrian Army, was heard across the border.
Since then, the government has faced criticism over its handling of the situation, amid reports that Syrians were being detained and three Syrian soldiers were returned to Syrian authorities.
In a telephone call with The Daily Star, caretaker Social Affairs Minister Salim Sayegh said that the situation on the Lebanese-Syrian border in the north was chaotic when the Syrians were crossing in large numbers, but emphasized that the government is acting in accordance with international law.
According to Sayegh, the decision by the Lebanese Army to hand over the Syrian soldiers to the Syrian authorities was not in violation of international law.
“Until now there has been no such case at the border,” said Sayegh in reaction to the reports that the Lebanese Army has arrested fleeing Syrian civilians and soldiers.
The three Syrian soldiers who were handed to the Syrian authorities were not fleeing the Syrian border towns but had unintentionally walked into the Lebanese territories, said Sayegh.
While Human Rights Watch has documented the detention of nine Syrian men and one child by Lebanon’s security forces since mid-May, Sayegh ruled out such reports, saying that the United Nations Refugee Agency and other international organizations would have quickly moved to denounce such actions if they were true.
For its part, the UNHCR is still trying to determine whether any Syrians fleeing were arrested by Lebanese forces and is seeking clarification from Lebanese judicial authorities on the status of the detained individuals.
“The UNHCR is sure that there are Syrians in detention but it cannot confirm yet whether they were detained for illegally entering Lebanon,” said UNHCR’s public information associate, Dana Sleiman.
With more than one million Syrian workers throughout the country, it is difficult for the UNHCR to determine just how many have fled.
“We don’t have numbers yet but we remain committed to the latest numbers released by the Lebanese government,” said Sleiman in reference to reports that 5,000 displaced Syrians crossed into Wadi Khaled in north Lebanon.
Hundreds of protesters staged a demonstration over the weekend in Tripoli’s Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood demanding that Lebanon’s caretaker government release fleeing Syrians who are reportedly being held by the Lebanese Army.
Commenting on the protests in Tripoli, Sayegh expressed concern, saying he feared that such developments would make the country a target and would lead to the destruction of “what is left of its institutions.”
“Such unilateral demands and stances would only harm Lebanon further,” Sayegh added.
According to Sayegh, the best way to deal with the influx of displaced Syrians is under the auspices of the United Nations.
“Working under the U.N. would be discrete and more effective in this case,” said Sayegh who is part of a tripartite committee charged with overseeing humanitarian assistance for the displaced Syrians.
In addition to the Social Affairs Ministry, the tripartite committee is comprised of the UNHCR and Lebanon’s Higher Relief Council.
Since the start of the unrest in Syria, more than 1,000 people have been killed in a violent crackdown by the Syrian security forces on pro-democracy protests, according to human rights groups. – With additional reporting by Van Meguerditchian

No comments:

Post a Comment