Amnesty Calls for Protection of Syrian Refugees as Lebanon Escalates Crackdown Ahead of Brussels Conference

As the EU Ministerial Brussels Conference on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” convenes, Amnesty International is calling on donor governments to ensure that funding pledged to support Syrian refugees in Lebanon does not contribute to human rights abuses.

In recent weeks, the Lebanese government has dramatically escalated its crackdown on Syrian refugees, introducing sweeping new restrictions on their ability to obtain residency permits and work, as well as ramping up raids, evictions, arrests and deportations.

This comes just after the European Commission pledged €1 billion in aid to Lebanon, partly to help curb irregular migration to Europe.

“Once again, the EU is putting its desire to stem the flow of refugees into Europe before its obligations to protect those fleeing conflict and persecution,” said Aya Majzoub of Amnesty International. “This appears to have emboldened Lebanese authorities to intensify their ruthless campaign targeting refugees.”

Lebanon hosts the world’s largest number of refugees per capita, yet struggles to assist them amid an acute economic crisis. Amnesty is urging European states to increase resettlement of Syrian refugees from Lebanon. Additionally, donors are urged to press Lebanon to immediately cease its crackdown and lift abusive measures aimed at forcing refugees to return to Syria, where they face grave risks.

“Syria remains unsafe for return, with refugees at risk of detention, torture and persecution,” Majzoub said. “Lebanon’s authorities must stop deportations, and the EU has a moral obligation to not turn away migrants seeking refuge.”

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