resumption of convoys of “voluntary return” of Syrian refugees

AA / Beirut / Wassim Seif El-Din

Convoys of “voluntary return” of Syrian refugees from Lebanon to their country, organized by the Lebanese authorities, and suspended since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic, resumed on Wednesday.

The authorities have identified 14 assembly points for the return of Syrian refugees in different Lebanese regions, where members of General Security and the army checked the papers of those wishing to return.

Some 500 Syrian refugees were in the Wadi Hamid area of ​​Arsal, on the Syrian-Lebanese border in eastern Lebanon, preparing to return to their country,

The trip to the Lebanese-Syrian border was accompanied by the interim government’s Minister of Social Affairs, Hector Hajjar, with the security support of army intelligence in the northern Bekaa.

“It is a national day par excellence. We are following the rhythm of voluntary departures towards the Lebanese-Syrian border. The political decision has been taken: the return of Syrian refugees above all! there are other departures which will continue “, Hajjar said in a statement to reporters.

The Lebanese General Security is expected to reveal today, in a press release, the details and statistics of the convoys.

On Tuesday, Lebanon’s director of public security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, said his country “will not force any refugee to return to Syria”.

He explained that there are currently two million and 80,000 displaced Syrians in Lebanon, pointing out that almost 540,000 Syrians have voluntarily returned to their country since the start of the plan in 2017.

Voluntary return convoys for Syrian refugees will resume today, after their suspension in 2019 due to the spread of coronavirus, under a Lebanese initiative for the return of those who wish to voluntarily return home, organized by Public Security in coordination with the Syrian authorities.

Recently, the Lebanese government put in place a plan for the return of 15,000 refugees to Syria per month.

However, the plan was met with rejection by the United Nations, which believes that security is not yet established in Syria, calling on the Lebanese authorities to wait for the situation to improve.

Most Syrian refugees live in poverty and their living conditions have deteriorated as Lebanon has been plagued by economic and energy supply problems since 2019.

In Syria, in mid-March 2011, popular protests erupted against President Bashar al-Assad, calling for a peaceful transfer of power. Al-Assad chose to put down the popular uprising militarily, which plunged the country into a devastating war that displaced hundreds of thousands of Syrians.

*Translated from Arabic by Wejden Jlassi

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