Lebanon Seeks to Deport Half of Syrian Refugees to their Homeland

In this Monday, April 23, 2018 photo, Syrian refugee children play outside their family tents at a Syrian refugee camp in the town of Bar Elias, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
In this Monday, April 23, 2018 photo, Syrian refugee children play outside their family tents at a Syrian refugee camp in the town of Bar Elias, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
TT

Lebanon Seeks to Deport Half of Syrian Refugees to their Homeland

In this Monday, April 23, 2018 photo, Syrian refugee children play outside their family tents at a Syrian refugee camp in the town of Bar Elias, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
In this Monday, April 23, 2018 photo, Syrian refugee children play outside their family tents at a Syrian refugee camp in the town of Bar Elias, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Lebanon’s General Security Directorate decided to prepare its own detailed information about the Syrian refugees residing in Lebanon after complaints that the UNHCR has disregarded demands to submit the data about the displaced to Lebanese authorities.
The General Security wants all Syrian refugees living on Lebanese soil to submit their documents at specific centers of the Directorate detailing their entry and current status.
Sources at the Directorate told Asharq Al-Awsat that the UNHCR "was given enough time" to expand Lebanon’s access to more information about Syrian refugees, noting that the UN agency has failed to cooperate.
“We have decided to gather the information ourselves”, said the sources on condition of anonymity. Syrian refugees are expected to present their documents at specified centers of the directorate expanding over various Lebanese regions, they said.
“All this data will be put together at a center in the Damour area. Syrian refugees entering Lebanon before 2015 and those who do not possess work permits or legal residency documents will be deported”, added the sources.
They said more than half the Syrian refugees could be deported after these measures are put in place.
In December, the General Security received, after months of delay, data from the UNHCR listing the names of 486 thousand refugees without detailing their entry dates or registration info. Lebanon requested the agency to provide detailed lists in order to determine their legal status.
About the UNHCR’s rejection to present Lebanese authorities with the required data, the UN agency’s spokeswoman Lisa Abou Khaled, said that discussions are underway regarding the matter, affirming that a meeting has indeed been held with the General Security to discuss the Lebanese government’s request about refugees.
“The UNHCR is here to support Lebanon, while simultaneously meeting its international obligations in the field of data protection and international refugee law,” she told the daily.
She explained that processing personal data is an integral part of the UNHCR’s mission of providing international protection and humanitarian assistance to forcibly displaced persons.
Since 2011, Syrian refugees have randomly flocked into Lebanon through legal and other illegal crossings making it extremely difficult for authorities to have realistic data about their presence.
Lebanon, which has been mired in a crushing economic crisis since late 2019, says it hosts around two million Syrians, the world's highest number of refugees per capita, with almost 785,000 registered with the United Nations.



Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
TT

Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)

Israeli forces carried out new raids in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to address the US Congress.

The latest Israeli attacks destroyed homes in towns east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza and thousands of people were forced to head west to seek shelter, residents said.

The Palestinian Civil Emergency Service said it had received distress calls from residents trapped in their homes in Bani Suhaila, east of Khan Younis, but were unable to reach the town.

Israel's military, which is trying to eradicate the armed group Hamas after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, said it had been operating in areas from which fighters had been able to fire rockets into Israel and attack Israeli troops.

Gaza health officials said Israeli military strikes in the past 24 hours had killed at least 55 people, the latest casualties in a war that health authorities in the enclave say has killed more than 39,000 Palestinians.

"Where should we go? Shall we cross into the sea?" said Ghada, who has been displaced with her family six times during the war, said from Hamas City in northwestern Khan Younis.

"We are exhausted, starved, and want the war to end now, now not an hour later. Every day means more families are wiped off the registration book," she told Reuters via a chat app.

Local residents said they had been ordered to head west towards a designated humanitarian area, but that the area was now unsafe.

Israeli forces also carried out airstrikes on several areas of central and northern Gaza Strip, killing and wounding several Palestinians, health officials said.

Residents of Rafah, near the border with Egypt, said Israeli forces had blown up several houses in the west of the city.

PALESTINIANS CRITICISE U.S.

Hamas-led fighters triggered the war on Oct. 7 by storming into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 captives, according to Israeli tallies. Some 120 hostages are still being held though Israel believes one in three are dead.

Some Palestinians who gathered at a hospital in Khan Younis before funerals criticized the United States, Israel's most important international ally, for welcoming Netanyahu.

The Israel leader was due to address Congress later on Wednesday and to meet President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would meet Netanyahu in Florida on Friday.

"The United States is a main partner in what is happening in Gaza. We are being killed because of the United States. We are being slaughtered by American planes, American ships, American tanks, and American troops," said Kazem Abu Taha, a displaced resident from Rafah.

A senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, told Reuters: "The Congress invitation to Netanyahu to make a speech gives legitimacy to the crimes of the war of genocide in Gaza. Receiving a war criminal is a shame to all Americans."

Israel has rejected accusations brought by South Africa at the UN's top court that its military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide campaign against Palestinians. It has reacted angrily to a decision by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor to seek an arrest warrant against Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said this week a deal to release Israelis held captive in Gaza could be near. But Hamas officials said Netanyahu was stalling and that they had not seen any change in the Israeli stance that would allow an agreement to be reached.

Hamas wants a ceasefire agreement to end the war in Gaza. Netanyahu says the war cannot end before Hamas is eradicated.