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SYRIAN REFUGEES

General Security head presses UNHCR for Syrian refugees data

General Security head presses UNHCR for Syrian refugees data

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati chairing a meeting to discuss the issue of Syrian refugees at the Grand Serail on Monday, 19 June 2024. (Credit: X/@grandserail)

BEIRUT — Lebanese authorities requested one more time the UN agency for refugees (UNHCR) to provide it with "complete data" of Syrian refugees or "we will get them ourselves," interim head of General Security Elias Baissari said Monday after a meeting chaired by caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported Wednesday.

It is not clear how the General security potentially plans to get that information. 

On June 14, after a cabinet meeting, caretaker Minister of Information Ziad Makari said that the data handed over to the Lebanese State by the UNHCR in Lebanon was "incomplete," lacking, in particular, an "essential component," namely "the date of entry of these refugees into Lebanese territory."

Today's meeting was held to address "the Syrian displaced file" was attended by caretaker Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib, interim head of General Security Elias Baissari, UN Resident Coordinator in Lebanon Imran Riza, and UNHCR Representative in Lebanon Ivo Freijsen, according to NNA. 

During the meeting, they also "discussed the plan developed by General Security to address the Syrian file in compliance with Lebanese laws, international regulations, and the 2003 Memorandum of Understanding between General Security and the UNHCR Regional Office."

The Memorandum of Understanding, signed in 2003 as refugees were coming to Lebanon from Iraq during the US invasion, states that "refugees and asylum-seekers will be tolerated, but only for a limited period, pending resettlement or voluntary repatriation."

In May, General Security announced a series of restrictive measures aimed at “containing and regulating the issue of Syrians present in Lebanon,” at a time when the country is facing an upsurge in xenophobic acts against them, and the resumption of “voluntary and safe returns” of Syrians to their country.

Several “voluntary return” convoys were organized between 2018 and 2022, with the aim of “helping” Syrians, refugees in Lebanon since the start of the war in their country in 2011, to return home.

This process has often been criticized by international organizations such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Amnesty International, who see it as disguised expulsions.

BEIRUT — Lebanese authorities requested one more time the UN agency for refugees (UNHCR) to provide it with "complete data" of Syrian refugees or "we will get them ourselves," interim head of General Security Elias Baissari said Monday after a meeting chaired by caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported Wednesday.It is not clear...