The international community is exerting pressure on the Lebanese government to protect Syrian refugees and provide them with humanitarian assistance after the U.N. refugee agency said Monday that as many as 2,000 Syrians crossed into Lebanon over the last two days.
An Nahar daily said Tuesday that the international community has also asked Lebanese authorities not to hand over refugees to the Syrian regime if it asks for their repatriation because their lives could be under threat.
France has already informed Premier Najib Miqati that the protection of the refugees is a humanitarian duty and has expressed anger at Beirut for handing over some Syrian activists to the Damascus authorities that have been clamping down on protestors since March last year, the daily added.
Dana Suleiman of the U.N. refugee agency told Agence France Presse on Monday that there were conflicting reports about the status of the Syrians.
"Over the past two days we have heard that up to 2,000 Syrians have attempted to cross into Lebanon" in the area of Masharee al-Qaa in the eastern Bekaa Valley, she said.
"But there are conflicting reports as to whether the majority have returned," she added.
Social Affairs Minister Wael Abou Faour stressed on Monday that his ministry can’t take care of the refugees unless they move from the Bekaa to northern Lebanon because the cabinet hasn’t tasked it with providing assistance to them in the East.
A local official in the Bekaa said most of those who fled the fighting were from the Syrian towns of Qusayr and Zarraa, in Homs province.
Lebanese security officials say more than 10,000 Syrians are believed to be in the country but according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, 7,058 Syrians have registered in Lebanon as refugees.
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