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Lebanon News

Stranded refugees return to Syria: ambassador

Lebanese citizens in the back of a pickup truck flee Arsal, a predominantly Sunni Muslim town near the Syrian border in eastern Lebanon, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. (AP/Bilal Hussein)

BEIRUT: Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim Ali announced Saturday that the refugees on the Lebanese border who were barred from Syria were allowed in, and that special residences would be allocated to them.

“The problems with the entrance of the returning Syrians in the Masnaa Lebanese area were solved, and adequate centers were found for them inside Syrian territory," he said.

The ambassador also thanked the Lebanese authorities for their cooperation in repatriating the refugees.

The 2,000 Syrian refugees spent two nights in their trucks, with little supplies, stranded on a highway just a few kilometers from the Syrian border.

Workers from several NGOs were distributing water, food and diapers to families in the stricken convoy.

The refugees had been reportedly denied access by the Lebanese General Security for lack of legal papers. But Friday evening, a General Security source told The Daily Star some of the paperwork had been completed, and an unknown number of the refugees had been granted access to Syria.

The source said the refugees, who had previously been on the outskirts of Arsal, had entered Lebanon illegally and did not have the paperwork required to exit the country.

The refugees left the northeastern Bekaa Valley town of Arsal Thursday night after fighting between militants and the Lebanese Army there subsided. When they reached the border crossing at Masnaa, however, they were stopped.

A separate security source told The Daily Star that the Lebanese authorities were willing to let the refugees leave the country Thursday night despite their lack of proper documentation, but that Syrian General Security was adamant that all their paperwork be in order before they could re-enter.

But Victoria Stanski of Mercy Corps, one of the NGOs distributing aid at the scene, said many refugees didn’t seem to have the intention to cross into Syria.

This came after a security source told the Daily Star Friday that the real problem behind the crossing of the refugees was their links to militants fighting against the Assad regime.

The source said that many of the families had relatives fighting alongside rebel groups in Syria, which means they could be subject to maltreatment by Assad’s government once they get in.

 

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Summary

Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim Ali announced Saturday that the refugees on the Lebanese border who were barred from Syria were allowed in, and that special residences would be allocated to them.

Friday evening, a General Security source told The Daily Star some of the paperwork had been completed, and an unknown number of the refugees had been granted access to Syria.

The source said the refugees, who had previously been on the outskirts of Arsal, had entered Lebanon illegally and did not have the paperwork required to exit the country.


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