Hezbollah chief says Lebanon should not prevent Syrians from going to EU

Hezbollah chief says Lebanon should not prevent Syrians from going to EU
Nasrallah said that Europe will "come running" to Beirut to stop the migration flow from Lebanon.
2 min read
03 October, 2023
Lebanon has received more than 20,000 Syrian refugees crossing the border in recent weeks. [Getty]

Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the pro-Iran group Hezbollah, said Lebanon should stop preventing Syrians from leaving Lebanon to the EU, as Lebanon experiences a surge in migration from Syria.

Nasrallah said that Lebanon should stop preventing Syrian refugees from leaving the country by sea and instead equip them with proper boats and help facilitate their passage to Europe.

"The European Countries will come running to Beirut, to the Serail, and ask the government: 'What do you want to stop this migration of refugees towards Europe?'" Nasrallah said.

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The speech came as Lebanon experienced a huge uptick of Syrians crossing the border into the country, seeking to escape the violence of the Assad regime and the worsening economic conditions in Syria.

The Lebanese army has called for increased resources and soldiers to address the surge, as it said the 394-kilometer border with Syria is currently impossible to guard.

Nasrallah claimed that the US is responsible for displacing Syrian refugees, blaming US sanctions for undermining the Syrian economy.

"If the Caesar [Sanctions] Act is lifted and the doors are opened to investments, hundreds of thousands of Syrians will return to their country," Nasrallah said.

Increasing xenophobia and frustration

Xenophobic tensions among the Lebanese and their political parties have erupted against the presence of nearly 1.6 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. 

The country's economic crisis, which started in 2019 and plunged 80% of Lebanese into poverty, has exacerbated these tensions.

Almost all major Lebanese political parties have called for Syrian refugees to return to their country, with the Lebanese state conducting thousands of deportations since April.

Anti-Syrian rallies have been held in Lebanon's capital, and a video of three men assaulting Syrians on the streets of Beirut circulated on social media on Sunday.

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Rights groups have consistently emphasised that Syria is not safe for returns and that Syrian refugees who return often face torture, forced disappearance and even murder at the hands of security services.

EU states have expressed frustration at the increasing number of Syrians travelling by boat to claim asylum.

On 15 September, Cypriot Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou asked the EU parliament to reevaluate whether Syria is safe for returns so that Cyprus could begin returning Syrian asylum seekers.

Ioannou also called for more financial aid to Lebanon, saying it was a "barrier" to more refugees reaching Europe.