09 May 2014

Lebanese authorities deported 41 Palestinians to Syria on 4 May 2014 following their arrest at Beirut airport for allegedly attempting to leave the country using fraudulent visas, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). On the same day, HRW reports that Palestinians from Syria were arbitrarily denied entry to Lebanon.  

Three of the people arrested remained in the strip of land between the Syrian and Lebanese border checkpoints as they feared what would happen to them if they reentered Syria. One of them spoke with Human Rights Watch and said that he was deported even though he told the official that he feared he would be detained if he was returned to Syria. He said that he was registered as a refugee with UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, both in Syria and after arriving in Lebanon. The rest of the group reentered Syria, where their fate is unknown.

Lebanon recently passed the grim milestone of hosting 1 million registered refugees from Syria and the government has expressed that “Lebanon [has] surpassed its capabilities in light of an absence of real aid to support host communities”. The Lebanese government has not announced a blanket ban on the entry of Palestinians from Syria, but according to the Guardian, government sources have confirmed there was a general policy to keep out Palestinians fleeing the conflict.

Human Rights Watch has called on Lebanon to urgently rescind its decision to bar Palestinians from Syria, recalling that a policy whereby people are turned back with adequately considering the dangers they face violates the principle of non refoulement.  “The Lebanese government is bearing an incomparable burden with the Syrian refugees crossing its borders, but blocking Palestinians from Syria is mishandling the situation,” stated Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “Palestinians are among the most vulnerable people in the Syria conflict, and like Syrian nationals are at risk of both generalized violence and targeted attacks.”

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 9 May 2014.
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