Lebanon’s Unwelcome: Syrian Refugees Face Tough Choices

lebanon’s unwelcome syrian refugees face tough choices

Even if Syrian refugees have been seeking protection in Lebanon for over ten years, a recent spike in hostility is compelling them to take a chance on returning to opposition-held areas of Syria. Having the biggest per capita number of refugees globally, Lebanon has fought to feed the Syrian refugees. 

Things have been significantly worse ever since Lebanon’s economic crisis began in 2019. This matter has burdened the economy of Lebanon and heightened tensions between the Lebanese people and the Syrian refugees. Situations have gotten worse when acts like the killing of a Lebanese official by a Syrian gang have stoked anti-Syrian violence. These incidents have raised the frequency of raids and deportations by Lebanese authorities, which has made the refugees feel insecure and terrified.

The Option of Return

Hundreds of Syrian refugees have made the risky decision to use smugglers’ routes back to Syria. Usually, one has to drive through government-held area after hiking or biking across difficult terrain to reach the relative safety of opposition-held northwest Syria. One of the many obstacles that refugees must bribe their way through is checkpoints and the constant worry of being arrested. 

These significant challenges emphasise the hopelessness and appalling conditions that drove them to leave Lebanon, even if they would encounter dangers in Syria.

The Return Algebra

Among the reasons for returning to Syria are “racism, pressure from the state, the economic collapse in Lebanon, and the lack of security”. Still, their return sites are not secure havens. These regions are regularly targeted by Syrian government forces, adding to the appalling humanitarian situation. 

Since money and attention are being focused on more recent tragedies, refugees are not getting much help from other countries. Their delicate balancing act between the dangers in their devastated country and the animosity they face in Lebanon presents a major issue that often leaves them with no clear choices.

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International Reaction

Helping these refugees who are juggling the dangers of their war-torn homeland and hostility in their haven of refuge is a challenging and urgent issue for the international community. The situation calls for a new focus on human needs and long-term solutions to the Syrian refugee problem. This means addressing immediate humanitarian needs as well as looking for long-term solutions that can help refugees stabilise and ensure their safety and well-being. 

Lessening the violence in Syria and establishing the circumstances for the peaceful and dignified return of refugees need further diplomatic efforts. The international community must also apply pressure to Lebanon to uphold the rights and protections of refugees inside its borders and to provide support to alleviate the social and economic pressures that are currently fueling hostility.

An Appeal for Action

The precarious repatriation of Syrian refugees to Syria and their predicament in Lebanon emphasise how urgently a comprehensive and well-coordinated international reaction is needed. Part of this reply should be humanitarian aid, diplomatic steps to reduce tensions, and the creation of safe and respectable pathways for refugees to reconstruct their lives. The world must acknowledge that resolving the Syrian refugee problem is a shared responsibility and work together to develop long-term solutions that uphold human rights and provide genuine hope for the future.



Raven Ruma is a professional journalist with a keen eye on domestic and foreign situations. His favorite pastime is to keep the public informed about the current situation through his pen and he is fulfilling this responsibility through the platform of Arab News.

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