Lebanon faces new influx of Syrian refugees amid economic crises, with 20,000 crossings since start of 2023
Lebanon is facing a new influx of Syrian refugees via informal crossing points in the north of its territory.
The country currently already hosts an estimated one and a half million to two million Syrian refugees who fled their country following the outbreak of conflict there in 2011.
On Wednesday, Lebanon’s Minister of the Displaced, Issam Sharaf Al-Din claimed 8,000 Syrians entered Lebanon through irregular crossings bringing the total number of Syrians who entered this way to 20,000 since the start of the year. The New Arab could not independently verify these numbers
The latest Syrian refugee influx began around three weeks ago, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported earlier on Tuesday, with increasing numbers of refugees crossing in recent days.
Al-Akhbar said that the Lebanese army had prevented 850 Syrians crossing illegally in the penultimate week of August, and stopped 1,100 from crossing last week.
The New Arab’s Lebanon-focused sister site Al-Modon said that economic factors such as rising prices and the deterioration in living conditions in Syria were behind the latest influx of refugees.
It also said that renewed protests against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria had also played a role.
Al-Modon added that many of those coming to Lebanon intended to make the perilous journey to Europe via sea, saying that migrant journeys to Europe had increased from Lebanon in recent months.
Al-Akhbar said that the Lebanese army was practically unable to contain the increasing number of Syrian refugees entering the country illicitly.
Lebanon’s Minister of the Displaced, Issam Sharaf Al-Din told Al-Akhbar that Lebanon’s caretaker government was "not serious about finding a long-term solution to the crisis".
He said that this would require an agreement with the Syrian regime to return refugees and patrol borders.
Sharaf Al-Din also said that Lebanese who give shelter to Syrian refugees should be punished.
Lebanon has previously returned Syrian refugees to their country, to condemnation from human rights groups. There has been increasing racism and hostility to Syrian refugees in Lebanon, with many politicians scapegoating them for the country’s ongoing economic crisis.
Forcible return of refugees to their country, known as refoulement, is illegal under international law, and rights groups such as Amnesty have said that Syrian refugees face arrest, detention, forcible conscription into the regime army, torture, and execution in their home country.
Note: This story has been updated with remarks by Lebanon's minister for the displaced specifying new numbers for August and the 2023.