BEIRUT: Municipalities in the Chouf are tightening their grip on Syrian refugees in the region, according to a local source, despite dominant local power the Progressive Socialist Party denying that any new measures had been brought in.
“The municipalities have been asked to make sure that all the Syrian refugees are being registered and that they are carrying authentic identification papers,” the source told The Daily Star Tuesday.
He added that some raids of lodgings or homes belonging to certain Syrian refugees were also being conducted in order to confiscate arms.
The source said the fresh security moves had been brought in at the behest of the PSP, which is led by Druze leader MP Walid Jumblatt. The Chouf, a mountainous region that extends southeast of Beirut, is considered the Druze heartland.
However, a PSP official denied that any new directives have been given by the party to tighten control on Syrian refugees in the region.
“The registration of Syrian refugees is a matter that has been underway for quite sometime and there are no new instructions in that regard,” the official said on condition of anonymity, noting, however, that the “PSP had initially expressed its wish to have the municipalities regularize the presence of Syrians in the villages.”
The alleged security boost came two days after a brawl between residents and nomads from Wadi Khaled developed into a clash involving gunfire in the Druze village of Maasrayti in the Aley area, resulting in the death of two villagers.
More than three years into the Syrian crisis, Lebanon is hosting over 1.1 million refugees, an influx that has severely impacted its economy, placed enormous pressure on an already fragile infrastructure and raised tensions with the local population.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 16, 2014, on page 3.