Report: Refugees Return File ‘On the Horns of a Dilemma’


Lebanese parties are divided over the controversial file of refugees and whether a coordination with the Syrian government is best for the country to facilitate their return, media reports said Saturday.

March 8 alliance camp believes “direct dialogue” between the Lebanese and Syrian governments is the only means to address the issue, al-Joumhouria daily reported.

Meanwhile, March 14 alliance sources told the newspaper that “al-Mustaqbal Movement, the Progressive Socialist Party and Lebanese Forces support the immediate return of the displaced on conditionally it is a safe one.”

The sources argue that Syrian President “Bashar (Assad) has not changed, so normalization of relations with the Syrian regime is unacceptable. We can not agree to grant him any legitimacy or political and official coverage by the Lebanese state under the blackmail pressure he is practicing through the displaced file.”

Lebanon hosts around 1 million registered Syrians — who account for roughly a quarter of the tiny country's population — and officials have said that Lebanon can no longer afford the strain on its fragile economy.

More and more are returning however as the regime reasserts its control over larger parts of the country.

Early in July, Damascus has approved the return of 450 Syrian refugees from Lebanon from a list of 3,000 requesting to do so, Lebanon's state news agency NNA had said.

Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced that his party has created a mechanism to help Syrian refugees return home, “in coordination with Lebanese authorities and Damascus.”

Nasrallah said the group was setting up centres with phone numbers and social media accounts where refugees could sign up to return home.

Later in July, 294 Syrian refugees headed home from the Lebanese border town of Arsal.

Earlier this year, around 500 refugees also left southern Lebanon for Syria in a return organised by Beirut and Damascus.

Several thousand have independently left in recent years.

More than 350,000 people have been killed and over half the country's population displaced since Syria's war started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.

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