Stranded on Lebanon-Syria | Refugees not allowed to enter Syria or return to Lebanon, and Syrian regime exploits and profits from humanitarian crises
A new crisis is hitting hard the Syrian people and deepens their suffering, as hundreds of Syrian refugees have been still stuck on the Syria-Lebanon border since March 23, 2020, the date of the closure of the Syria-Lebanon border crossings , the start of the coronavius outbreaks, and the Syrian health minister’s declaration of the first COVID-19 case among the arrivals from abroad. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has monitored and tracked the developments of the plight of refugees stuck on the Syria-Lebanon border and their inhumane situations.
Reasons behind the crisis
Most of the Syrian people living in Lebanon have lost their income, especially as most of them are day laborers or have irregular employment, in addition to their poor living conditions in the wake of the successive crises plaguing Lebanon: the coronavirus pandemic, the Beirut port explosion, and the chronic financial, economic and political crises. All of these crises have given the Syrians no good reasons to stay in Lebanon and forced them to smuggle themselves back into the border crossings of “Al-Aredah” and “Jadidat Yabous” in an attempt to return to their homeland via territories controlled by the Syrian regime.
According to SOHR sources, regime forces met these refugees with gunfire on many occasions and prevented them from crossing into Syria, unless they complied with several stringent conditions and financial restrictions imposed by regime authorities.
Growing crisis and regime bent on profiteering
The Syrian regime’s authorities issued “Resolution No. 46” on July 8, 2020, preventing Syrian citizens from entering Syria, unless a sum of 100 USD was handed over and exchanged, on arrival, into Syrian pound at an official rate set by the Syrian Central Bank.
According to SOHR sources, the director of the Syrian regime Immigration and Passports Department appeared a few days ago in interview on regime media outlets, talking about the way to deal with Syrians wishing to return to their country and did not have the 100 USD conditional exchange at the rate of the Central Bank at the Syria borders. In this interview, the regime official said “the instructions stipulate the sending back of those refugees to where they came from if they do not have the 100 USD.”
On the other hand, Lebanon has not accepted the return of these Syrians, as they had entered the country illegally. In addition, the Lebanese authorities impose several restrictions on the Syrian people entering Lebanon, like having a hotel reservation or a union card, while Syrian citizens are not allowed to stay in Lebanon for more than 15 days. Accordingly, any Syrian who does not have the required amount of money has to call his relatives or friends to bring him the 100 USD, then he can exchange them in order to be allowed to enter Syria.
“The Syrian citizen who is denied to entry into Syria will be kept on the border, staying in the open, eating and drinking until he or she secures the 100 USD, and then will be allowed to enter the country,” added the director of the Syrian regime Immigration and Passports Department, referring to tens of Syrian citizens who are staying in the open on the Syria-Lebanon border where no food or water are provided, and enduring the inhumane situations due to the poor weather.
A few days ago, a Syrian girl died on the Syria-Lebanon border, and the Lebanese Civil Defence took her body to a governmental hospital of Al-Herrawy in Zahle. The girl was found dead on a mountain near Al-Masnaa-Al-Beqaa border crossing.
Another crisis, more suffering
The ongoing crisis of the Syrian refugees, who are still stuck between the Syria-Lebanon border, is yet another tragedy added to a series of other humanitarian crises plaguing the Syrian people, especially with no food, water or medical care provided on border areas, while no aid organizations are active there.. All of these ordeals coincide with the spread of coronavirus in Syria and Lebanon, at a time when the two countries refuse to let those stranded refugees enter their territories, deepening their sufferings and igniting more anger against the Syrian regime that could not care less about the people of Syria, exploits their suffering .