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.

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September 16, 2015

The Daily Star - Syrian refugees registered with U.N. fewer by 60,000, September 16, 2015

The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has apparently decreased by almost 60,000 over the past six weeks, an agency official said Tuesday. “[One] of our regular activities at the UNHCR is to verify and update the information of registered refugees [such as] their situation and whereabouts. And as part of the regular verification exercises that we do, we recently inactivated 58,000 refugees from our database because we couldn’t get in touch with them, despite various attempts, like phone calls, home visits and inviting them to these exercises,” Lisa Abou Khaled, UNHCR Lebanon’s public information officer, told The Daily Star.

Abou Khaled explained that the inactivation of refugees doesn’t happen haphazardly.

“A refugee isn’t inactivated until all of this stuff and all of these inquires have been carried out,” she said. “It doesn’t happen automatically, we give them a chance.” If the refugees contact UNHCR again, the change can be revoked, she added.

Refugees from Syria have fled to neighboring states, including Lebanon, to escape their country’s bloody civil war. Their numbers have soared since fighting broke out in 2011, and Lebanon has faced a massive influx of refugees.

Early this year, the Lebanese government took measures to curb the number of refugees entering the country. The government issued new visa-renewal regulations in January, requiring every Syrian over 15 years of age to pay $200, show a valid ID card, and sign a housing pledge confirming they had a place of residence. The new protocol also separated Syrians into two categories: those registered with the UNHCR must sign a pledge not to work; those who are not must find a Lebanese sponsor.

On Aug. 25, the number of registered Syrian refugees was 1,113,941, according to UNHCR’s website, down from the 1,172,753 recorded on July 6.

“We can’t assume, it could be for a number of reasons,” Abou Khaled said, when asked why the UNHCR could no longer get in touch with those who have been removed from the figures. “They either moved on to another country, or maybe they changed their phone number and we can’t get in touch and they’re here.”

She explained that there’s no guarantee that the refugees left the country, and it would be very difficult to confirm whether they had.

In recent months huge numbers of refugees, including Palestinians coming from Syria, have fled to Europe in search of a better life.

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