Lebanon requests to join UN body to find Syria disappeared, despite abstaining in June

Lebanon requests to join UN body to find Syria disappeared, despite abstaining in June
2 min read
11 August, 2023
The Lebanese foreign ministry has sent a letter to the UN Secretary General requesting that he include the case of missing Lebanese in Syria in the body set up in June to determine the fate of those who disappeared in the war-torn country.
Thousands are believed to have been kidnapped and forcibly disappeared during Lebanon's 1975-1990 Civil War [Getty]

Lebanon’s foreign affairs ministry announced Friday that it will request to be included in a recently established UN body to discover the fate of missing people in Syria.

Despite not voting in favour of the body’s establishment in June, Beirut has requested to be included to determine the fate of Lebanese forcibly disappeared in Syria after 2012.

In a statement, the foreign affairs ministry said it received a letter from the justice ministry containing a report prepared by a special committee looking into the fate of Lebanese allegedly detained in Syrian prisons, addressed in 2008 to the president at the time.

After consulting with the current caretaker prime minister, the ministry said it will present the report to Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres to include in the work of the UN body.

The ministry affirmed its "full cooperation with the United Nations to resolve the issue of the missing and forcibly disappeared Lebanese, as soon as a UN executive mechanism is adopted to address this chronic issue."

The Lebanese government faced public anger in June after it abstained from voting on the UN General Assembly resolution to form the independent body.

Lebanon's caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib announced ahead of the vote that he had instructed Lebanon’s ambassador to the UN to abstain, in line with the general consensus among Arab states which has seen a rekindling of ties with the regime in Damascus.

Bou Habib had said that Lebanon did "not wish to politicise a humanitarian issue," adding that the committee would "not solve the crisis of the Lebanese missing persons [in Syria]".

Rights groups say that some 100,000 people have been forcibly disappeared since the Syrian war began in 2011, following a brutal crackdown on anti-regime protests.

Some of the missing - including Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians - are believed to have been arrested or captured by the various forces and militias involved in the conflict.

During Lebanon’s own 1975-90 Civil War, rights organisations estimate that some 17,000 people were kidnapped or disappeared. Their families have waited for answers since the end of the war, but to no avail.