04/20/2018, 09.17
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HRW, denounces unjustified Lebanese expulsions of Syrian refugees

The activist group protests the decision of some municipalities to expel refugees "because of their nationality or religion". The appeal to national leaders to oppose a "rhetoric" that "encourages or forgives" violations. Harsh criticism of international community for failing to support Lebanon in the emergency.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Several municipalities in Lebanon have violated human rights, ordering the expulsion "without any justification" of hundreds of Syrian refugees from their  homes and housing starting in 2016.

The move coincides with a growing resentment and intolerance towards those who have fled from the conflict in search of shelter, which has aggravated the Land of the Cedars already precarious economic situation.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) activists report "at least 13 municipalities in Lebanon forcibly drove around 3664 Syrian refugees from their homes"; expulsion measures, they add, based more often than "on their nationality or their religion" in a period between the beginning of 2016 and the end of March.

In January, a Lebanese minister spoke of a decrease in Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which has just fallen below one million. However, according to UN experts, the situation is getting more complicated, so much so that today they are "more vulnerable than ever": "over half" live in conditions of "extreme poverty" and "more than three quarters below the poverty line".

The confirmation comes from an investigation carried out by UNICEF, the World Food Program and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), according to which aid and funding to respond to the emergency are more "uncertain".

Three quarters of Syrian refugees in Lebanon now live on less than four dollars a day; often money is not even enough to buy basic resources, like food and medicine. According to research, nine out of ten refugees have applied for cash loans and are now overwhelmed with debt. Each household spends on average $ 98 a month, 44 of which are used for eating.

According to UN figures, 84% of refugees find refuge in Turkey (which receives 2.9 million people), Pakistan (1.4 million), Lebanon (over one million, out of a total of four million inhabitants), Iran (979.400 migrants), Uganda (940.800) and Ethiopia (761.600). In this emergency situation, Pope Francis in his Message 2018 for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees reminds us that in addition to welcoming we must "protect, promote and integrate".

In a statement, Bill Frelick, head of the HRW refugee program, points out that "the municipalities have no legitimate justification for displacing Syrian refugees". Especially if these measures, he warns, are taken on the basis of "discriminations" of a religious, ethnic group or nationality. "Lebanese leaders - he continues - should put an end to a rhetoric that encourages or forgives forced displacement, expulsions and other forms of mistreatment or discrimination towards refugees".

The indictment by the HRW official does not only affect Lebanon. He concluded : “Lebanon's refugee-hosting fatigue has been exacerbated by a lack of international support" as well.


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