Representation Crisis – Syrian Refugees

As of July 2022, the Lebanese government has initiated a plan to begin send Syrian refugees in Beruit, back to Syria in an attempt to combat Lebanon’s economic crisis. There is a goal to send back 15,000 Syrian refugees per month. They claim the weight of hosting the refugees in Lebanon is no longer viable for the country, and it will benefit its residents if the Syrian refugees go back to Syria.The UN objects that repatriation is a safe option for the current displaced Syrian refugees, despite the Lebanese government claiming Syria has recently become ‘safer.’

The Syrian government states that the refugees who will return are guaranteed temporary shelter in locations that are ‘entirely safe,’ whilst also promising to send them back to their original neighbourhoods. However, there have already been an alarming amount of human rights violations committed against Syrian refugees who have forcibly returned back to their country – arbitrary detention, sexual assault, killings, and disappearances. The UN are urging Lebanon to re-think their strategy.

There are an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Less than 1% of these are registered with the UN.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon make up almost 1/4 of the entire population.

According to the Refugee Protection Watch's research, 70% of Syrians in Lebanon haven't received any humanitarian assistance since the beginning of 2021.

What does this mean for persecuted minorities?

This process will leave displaced persecuted minorities the most vulnerable. Many are unable to register with the UNHCR for this reason – they live in fear of the system, as well as being persecuted from the authorities. Furthermore, returning them back to their neighbourhoods in Syria will put them in extreme danger. Many families have escaped their community not only from war, but due to extreme persecution for religious beliefs, ethnic identity, or political alignment. They will be put in even more danger than before by being sent back to the same location.