BEIRUT: Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk stressed Thursday that Palestinian refugees from Syria were not barred from entering Lebanon, but that specific requirements for their entry had been issued.
“There is no decision preventing Palestinian refugees in Syria from entering Lebanon and passing through the country,” Machnouk said according to a statement by the ministry.
He said some measures were taken last weekend against a number of Syrian citizens and Palestinian refugees from Syria who had tried to travel through Lebanon to unspecified Arab countries, and that “a decision was taken to deport them for committing the crime of possessing fake travel documents.”
Some 49 Syrians and Palestinians previously living in Syria were arrested at Beirut airport last Saturday on suspicion of possessing forged documents. About 40 were deported back to Syria the next day, all of whom are believed to be Palestinian, according to Human Rights Watch. It is not know what happened to the other nine or so.
As a result of the incident, Machnouk said new requirements had been put in place to better govern the entry process of Palestinian refugees from Syria coming into Lebanon.
Palestianian refugees from Syria must now possess an entry permit approved by the General Directorate of General Security, a residency of one to three years, or a Lebanese exit and return permit. Those who want to travel abroad through Beirut's airport may do so as long as they have the necessary travel documents or permits.
Palestinian refugees from Syria coming through the airport will be given a crossing permit valid for 24 hours, although Lebanese authorities will no longer automatically give permission for them to enter Lebanon, even if they have the right to return to Syria.
Further, a new rule states that Palestinians who have bought a nine-month residency, which costs LL300,000, will be given a three-month extension to make it last for a year.
Machnouk stressed that these requirements were subject to alteration according to the security situation in Syria, and that any decision to totally close the border to refugees would have to be issued by the Cabinet following deliberations with the involved ministerial committee.