Lebanon is collaborating with Damascus in order to ensure the safe return of its citizens, who have ended up as refugees, in Lebanon.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, as well as other politicians have called on the refugees to return to “safe areas” before a political agreement is reached tht will see the end of the Syrian war.
As per U.N estimates, Lebanon is host to nearly 1 million Syrian registered refugees; this translates to 25% of the country’s population.
As per an estimate by the Lebanese government, the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon are around 1.5 million.
With the Syrian government gaining more grounds, thanks to support from Iran and Russia, many Lebanese politicians have stepped up their demands that Syrian refugees return to their country.
As per Major General Abbas Ibrahim, Director General of Public Security who is also a powerful man in Lebanon, Lebanon is in talks with Syrians authorities to ensure that thousands of Syrians do return to Syria.
Maj. Gen. Ibrahim said, he does not expect the Syrian refugees to stay for long in Lebanon. The government has done a lot of hard work to ensure this outcome.
Given the dynamics of the circumstances though, he was not able to provide a timeframe for their return, nonetheless, he expressed his belief tht many refugees will soon return.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement that it was “aware of the planning for several moves to the return of Syrian refugees to their country … and UNHCR is in constant contact with the General Directorate of General Security regarding this matter.”
The UNHCR however made it clear it was not involved in organizing the return of Syrian refugees from Lebanon.
“This return or other at this stage in view of the humanitarian and security situation in Syria.”
In April 2018, during a conference on Syria hosted by the European Union and co-chaired by the United Nations, it was concluded that the conditions for return of Syrian refugees into Syria are yet to be met; current conditions are not conducive to voluntary repatriation, keeping their safety and dignity in view.
Highlighting the country’s existential threat that Syrian refugees pose, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun stated the presence of Syrian refugees, who are mostly Sunnis, undermines the balance of Lebanon’s communal harmony between its Christians, Shiites, Sunnis and other sects.
However, he reiterated that the principle of voluntary return must be respected.