Lebanon News

Stiffer security checks at border for refugees

Syrian refugees wait to receive aid donated from the Secours Islamique France which is part of the Islamic Relief Worldwide in Sidon, Wednesday, July 24, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

MASNAA, Lebanon: Syrians fleeing the violence in their country into Lebanon will face stiffer security checks at border crossings, a security source told The Daily Star. A directive recently circulated by the General Directorate of General Security has ordered strengthened identity checks of refugees on the border, the source said.

The new measures have already resulted in some Syrians attempting to cross into Lebanon being turned back.

The measures come at a time when Lebanon is grappling with a massive refugee crisis. Last month, Lebanon’s foreign minister said the number of refugees had reached 1.2 million.

In the past, Lebanese border control often ignored incomplete paperwork or damaged identity cards for humanitarian reasons, the source said.

The tightened security measures are a result of growing concern and awareness of the economic and security costs of the refugee crisis.

The source said that authorities are working to try and limit the number of refugees fleeing into Lebanon.

Many Lebanese businesses complain of competition by businesses owned or run by Syrian refugees. Refugees have dispersed throughout the country due to the lack of refugee camps for Syrians. Many have sought refuge in Palestinian refugee camps, which are themselves overcrowded.

Security concerns have mounted as well, with many fearing a spillover of the violence into Lebanon, where the conflict has enflamed sectarian and political tensions. Many Sunnis support the rebels battling President Bashar Assad’s regime, while Hezbollah, the Shiite party, has sent fighters into Syria to help regime forces.

In its latest weekly report, UNHCR revealed it was in discussion with Lebanese government officials over their plans to tighten measures on the border with Syria to ensure vulnerable individuals aren’t affected, as the number continues to rise.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 29, 2013, on page 4.

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