Plight of Syrian refugees in Lebanon
Sir, – I have recently returned from Beirut, where I spent eight days as part of a delegation investigating the plight of Syrian refugees. While there, I was told by many of them whom I met that they now live in great fear of being forcibly returned to Syria.The Lebanese authorities have acknowledged that it has deported more than 2,000 refugees. That could mean arrest, torture and even death, based on the alarming reports of what has happened to those who have been forcibly returned. Indeed, The Irish Times carried an investigation by journalist Sally Hayden (World, August 7th) revealing the horrific consequences facing those who returned home. The picture now is far worse.
As a member of the Irish Syria Solidarity Movement, I joined an international delegation organised by the Syrian American Council in partnership with the Access Center for Human Rights. It was clear to us that international law is not being respected in Lebanon. Something must be done to protect refugees and to halt all forcible repatriations and other violations of their human rights.We met personnel from NGOs, the UNHCR, the EU delegation to Lebanon and several embassies. We not only expressed our concerns, but also demanded change for people who have lived under extremely difficult conditions for years.
Four years ago, Ireland committed to resettle 4,000 refugees, of which only 2,613 have arrived to date. There are now an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon alone. How can our Government lobby countries like this to fulfil their responsibilities under international law when its own commitment does not reflect the scale of this crisis? Could Ireland not lead by example by doing more? – Yours, etc,