BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Lebanon works to resolve issue of stranded refugees

Syrian refugees ride on a truck as they arrive at the Masnaa border crossing, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. (The Daily Star/Elise Knusten)

BEIRUT: While a group of Syrian refugees was able to cross into Syria Friday after being stranded at a Lebanon border crossing for hours, hundreds of other families are still waiting for permission to cross.

“We reached Masnaa and got turned back. They didn’t accept us,” said Hassan, a Syrian man who was standing on the highway. Members of his family meandered near their truck stacked high with mattresses and sundry supplies. Workers from several NGOs were distributing water, food and diapers to families in the stricken convoy.

A security source told The Daily Star that General Security was working on settling paperwork for Syrians, especially those who had entered the country illegally.

Most of the refugees seeking to return to their home country have entered Lebanon through illegal border crossings during the Qalamoun battles and failed to register with Lebanese authorities and the U.N. refugee agency, the source said.

Therefore, General Security is working in coordination with the Syrian Embassy to resolve the status of the refugees and prepare a list of names that would pave the way for their return.

Approximately 500 undocumented elderly, 400 children and 800 women returning from the northeast Lebanon town of Arsal were blocked from entering their home country after they admitted to being relatives of rebel troops, according to another security source.

Conflicting reports emerged over whether the refugees were stranded due to political considerations or over paperwork.

The Lebanese authorities communicated with their Syrian counterparts to solve the status of many refugees and allow them to enter, even those whose relatives were connected to rebel groups.

The exodus of the refugees comes days after the Lebanese Army clashed with Islamist militants in the northeastern town of Arsal, where over 100,000 Syrian refugees resided.

The clashes resulted in heavy damage to some of the informal refugee camps in the border region, which were burned to the ground.

In light of the clashes and reports that the militants were hiding inside the camps, politicians and the Lebanese government said it would address and reorganize the presence of Syrian refugees in the country particularly in Arsal, a Sunni town known for its support of the Syrian opposition.

 

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Summary

While a group of Syrian refugees was able to cross into Syria Friday after being stranded at a Lebanon border crossing for hours, hundreds of other families are still waiting for permission to cross.

A security source told The Daily Star that General Security was working on settling paperwork for Syrians, especially those who had entered the country illegally.

Most of the refugees seeking to return to their home country have entered Lebanon through illegal border crossings during the Qalamoun battles and failed to register with Lebanese authorities and the U.N. refugee agency, the source said.


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