Lebanon Develops Plan to Deport Syrian Prisoners

A photo released by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces shows prisoners performing Eid al-Fitr prayers in Roumieh jail. (ISF on Twitter)
A photo released by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces shows prisoners performing Eid al-Fitr prayers in Roumieh jail. (ISF on Twitter)
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Lebanon Develops Plan to Deport Syrian Prisoners

A photo released by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces shows prisoners performing Eid al-Fitr prayers in Roumieh jail. (ISF on Twitter)
A photo released by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces shows prisoners performing Eid al-Fitr prayers in Roumieh jail. (ISF on Twitter)

The Lebanese caretaker government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati has developed a plan to deport Syrian prisoners, despite faltering in developing political and legal mechanisms to return the displaced back to their home country.

The ministerial committee tasked with following up on the return of the displaced tasked Justice Minister Henry al-Khoury with discussing the possibility of turning over Syrian detainees to their country immediately, according to relevant laws and agreements.

Khoury told Asharq Al-Awsat that the return of Syrian prisoners in Lebanon to their country is a "sensitive issue and should not be dealt with hastily."

There are 1,800 Syrians, who have committed criminal offenses, in Lebanese prisons, 82 percent of whom have not completed their trials.

The Minister explained that the issue of Syrian prisoners requires careful legal consideration, and if the prisoner also has a pending judicial case in Syria, the procedures may be easier to transfer them and complete their trial in their country.

However, if the detainee does not have a case in Syria, once released, they might return to Lebanon illegally, warned Khoury.

He said a ministerial and technical delegation will visit Syria to discuss the return of the displaced, but the detainees and convicts' issue is still under consideration.

A source familiar with the prison issue told Asharq Al-Awsat that dozens of pre-trial detainees are awaiting judicial verdicts, including 143 Syrian minors, in Lebanese jails.

A security source concerned with the prison file admitted that thousands of Syrians in Lebanese prisons are deepening the prison crisis and are a burden on state resources.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, the source, who declined to be named, believed that the deportation of prisoners is usually linked to agreements signed between two countries.

He noted that it was a complex issue and difficult to resolve, questioning the process of returning convicts and detainees while the state has yet to come up with a mechanism to return the displaced.

Lawyer and human rights activist Diyala Shehadeh stressed that Lebanon is committed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, she warned against violating the laws that must be followed in repatriating detainees, as it requires the concerned country to submit an extradition request.

Shehadeh cautioned that handing over these prisoners may expose them to persecution and physical and economic harm and the possibility of their involvement in the armed conflict, whether through forced conscription or by joining armed factions.



Egypt Needs to Import $1.18 Billion in Fuel to End Power Cuts, PM Says

The moon is seen after the day of Strawberry Moon over old houses in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)
The moon is seen after the day of Strawberry Moon over old houses in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)
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Egypt Needs to Import $1.18 Billion in Fuel to End Power Cuts, PM Says

The moon is seen after the day of Strawberry Moon over old houses in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)
The moon is seen after the day of Strawberry Moon over old houses in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)

Egypt needs to import around $1.18 billion worth of mazut fuel oil and natural gas to end persistent power cuts exacerbated by consecutive heat waves, its Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said in a televised address on Tuesday.

It hopes the shipments will arrive in full around the third week of July, by which point the government aims to stop cutting power during the remaining summer months, he added.

It has already started contracting for 300,000 tons of mazut worth $180 million to boost its strategic reserves which are expected to arrive early next week.

Egypt's government on Monday extended daily power cuts to three hours from two hours previously in response to a surge in domestic electricity consumption during the latest heat wave.

These three-hour cuts will continue until the end of June, before returning to two hours in the first half of July with the aim of stopping completely for the rest of the summer, Madbouly said on Tuesday.

Egyptian social media has lit up with complaints about the impact of the blackouts, with some saying they have been forced to purchase private power generators.

The problem has particularly affected teenagers preparing for the crucial high school certificate, with some posting about students studying by candlelight and others in coffee shops.

A wedding hall owner in the coastal city of Port Said said he would turn one of his ballrooms into a study hall.

Since July last year, load shedding linked to falling gas production, rising demand and a shortage of foreign currency has led to scheduled two-hour daily power cuts in most areas.

"We had said that we planned to end load shedding by the end of 2024... we do not have a power generation problem or a network problem, we are unable to provide fuel," Madbouly said on Tuesday.

"With the increase in consumption related to the major development and population increase, there has been a lot of pressure on our dollar resources," he added.

He said production in a neighboring country's gas field had come to a full halt for 12 hours leading to an interruption in the supply, without naming the country or the gas field.

Egypt's Abu Qir Fertilizers said on Tuesday three of its plants had halted production because their supply of natural gas was cut.