Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: Victims of Discrimination

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has condemned discriminatory restrictions on Syrian refugees taken by 21 Lebanese municipalities as part of their efforts to combat the Covid-19.

HRW considered such practices as undermining the country’s public health response and reducing the impact efforts exerted against the virus.

The organization accused the Lebanese municipalities of imposing discriminatory restrictions that do not apply to Lebanese residents: “The Kfarhabou municipality in northern Lebanon has imposed curfew on Syrian refugees between 3 p.m. and 7 a.m. local time,” HRW reports, noting that the municipality of Darbaashtar “prohibited” Syrians from leaving their homes or receiving visitors without any exceptions.

The organization says that discriminatory measures against refugees are not new, indicating that the in the past few years many practices and strict restrictions were imposed on refugees such as curfews, forcing them to clean the streets, in addition to conducting unjustified raids in their homes.

At least 18 municipalities in the Bekaa valley have mandated restrictions other than curfews that only target the refugee population, it says.

On the other hand, HRW called on the municipalities to inform the Syrian refugees that they can obtain health care without any punishment if they feel any symptoms similar to the symptoms of the coronavirus, regardless of their residency status, since many refugees have expressed their concerns over not having access to the health care and lacking information on how to protect themselves from infection to HRW.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese Ministry of Health announced April 3, that 14 new infections with the Coronavirus were confirmed, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 508 cases nationwide, while a new death was recorded, bringing the death toll to 17.

This coincided with the Lebanese Army’s warning of violating the curfew by gathering in the roads and squares, stressing that staying home is obligatory.

Since the start of the virus spread in Lebanon, the UNCHR has launched awareness campaigns in the refugee’s camps, and distributed sanitizers.

Lebanon, whose population is not more than 4 million, hosts more than a million Syrian refugees; the majority of them have fled their homes following the Assad regime’s military campaigns that targeted them.

The Lebanese Public Security Directorate works on repatriating Syrian refugees, in cooperation with Damascus government.

In late 2019, the Lebanese government issued a strict resolution, stating that Syrian refugees residing in the border town of Arsal have to demolish their concrete homes using light equipment.

According to many identical sources, the Lebanese government did this without providing the refugees with any emergency solutions, although those houses are their only weapon against cold and heat.

Dozens of Syrian refugees demolished their homes according to the government resolution of demolishing the refugees’ concrete houses.

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