BEIRUT: Human Rights Watch slammed Lebanon Tuesday for deporting back to Syria about 40 Palestinians who according to Lebanon’s security agencies were attempting to flee the country using forged documents.
The watchdog also criticized strict restrictions placed by Lebanese authorities on Palestinians crossing over the land borders from Syria.
“The Lebanese government should urgently rescind its decision to bar Palestinians from Syria from entering Lebanon,” HRW said.
HRW said Lebanon was turning people back without adequately considering the dangers they face.
“Such a policy violates the international law principle of nonrefoulement, which forbids governments from returning refugees and asylum seekers to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened” the statement added.
Earlier this week, security sources confirmed to The Daily Star that Lebanon was barring the entry of Palestinians coming from embattled Syria to the country.
Over the weekend Lebanese authorities detained 49 Syrian and Palestinian refugees from Syria at the Beirut airport for allegedly trying to depart the country illegally, a General Security statement said.
The agency said the men and women were trying to travel with forged documents to an unidentified Arab country.
They were referred to the state prosecutor's office and were further interrogated to reveal the “network of individuals forging travel documents, and whoever is involved in the case,” it added. Most were deported back to Syria the next day.
The number of Syrian refugees fleeing into Lebanon has skyrocketed in the past year with more than one million registered refugees. Thousands of Palestinian refugees from Syria have also sought refuge Lebanon as the war rages over the border.
Lebanon has said that it can no longer handle the overwhelming number of refugees and that it was struggling to provide them with needed aid.
“The Lebanese government is bearing an incomparable burden with the Syrian refugees crossing its borders, but blocking Palestinians from Syria is mishandling the situation,” said Joe Stork, HRW’s deputy Middle East and North Africa director.
“Palestinians are among the most vulnerable people in the Syria conflict, and like Syrian nationals are at risk of both generalized violence and targeted attacks,” he added.