Lebanese authorities have recorded a new influx of Syrian refugees crossing into Lebanon from neighboring Syria through the porous illegal border crossings between the two countries.
On a daily basis, authorities return close to 30 families caught crossing illegally from Syria, while other families manage to flee through overlapping border routes which the authorities cannot fully control.
The governor of the border area of Baalbek-Hermel, Bashir Khodr, said at a security meeting in the town of Arsal that security forces seize between 20 and 30 families of displaced Syrians entering Lebanon through the vicinity of Arsal.
“Those get deported after thorough legal procedures which are often complicated and hard,” said Khodr, describing the situation as “unbearable” and requiring preemptive measures to control it.
Displaced Syrians seeking refuge in Lebanon have grown following the February 6 earthquake that struck Türkiye and Syria.
Dozens of families try daily to reach the Lebanese interior. Lebanon's' security forces succeed at thwarting the bulk of human smuggling operations, while others are able to cross, benefiting from overlapping border areas.
Popular resentment is on the rise in Lebanon with the rising competition of the Syrian working force, and the difficulties they bear at various levels because of the influx of refugees.
At the security meeting held in the presence of security leaders in the Bekaa region, Khodr said: “Our meeting today is to address various complaints we received from Mokhtars and officials in Arsal related to the competition of the Syrian labor force. Arsal alone has 174 encampments of Syrian refugees, not to mention the rented apartments and shops.”
Syrians trying to enter Lebanon seek to join the Syrian displacement camps in the Bekaa Valley and the Palestinian refugee camps. Families head to Beirut seeing it as a safe haven for work.
Meanwhile, the coastal region of northern Lebanon is considered by some refugees as a station in preparation for flowing toward Europe via boats that depart from the north.
Lebanon hosts some 815,000 registered Syrian refugees and potentially hundreds of thousands more who are unregistered, the highest population of refugees per capita in the world. But since the country’s economic meltdown erupted three years ago, Lebanese officials have increasingly called for a mass return of the Syrians.