Syria's Kurdish administration says ready to accept Syrian refugees from Lebanon

Syria's Kurdish administration says ready to accept Syrian refugees from Lebanon
3 min read
01 May, 2023
Syria's de-facto Kurdish autonomous region is ready to welcome Syrian refugees currently in Lebanon, the region's administration has said.
Lebanon hosts about 2 million Syrians. There have been increasing calls for their deportation [Getty/archive]

The Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) said on Sunday it was ready to receive Syrian refugees from Lebanon amid increasing calls for their deportation.

AANES – which governs most of the territory east of the Euphrates River, also known as Rojava – demanded the opening of a humanitarian corridor between Lebanon and Syrian areas under its control to facilitate the arrival of refugees.

The deputy co-chair of AANES, Badran Jia Kurd, acknowledge in a statement published on the administration's website that Lebanon in recent years has been suffering from internal crises.

"We in the Autonomous Administration are ready to receive our people from abroad. Our doors are open to all Syrians without discrimination as a humanitarian, moral and patriotic duty, and we want to fulfil this duty based on our keenness and insistence on providing better climates," he said.

AANES called on the United Nations to provide aid and guarantees and to play its role in opening a humanitarian corridor between Lebanon and Rojava.

"We are ready to receive and provide services and aid within our capabilities, and we consider that this dilemma is a humanitarian issue, and we must cooperate to solve it. Keeping these refugees in Lebanon or forcing them to return to Syria is illegal," said Kurd.

The Islamist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) group on Friday made a similar proposal, expressing its "full readiness to receive more than two million Syrian refugees in Lebanon" within the areas it controls.

HTS is an offshoot of Al-Qaeda and incorporates a number of smaller Syrian rebel factions. It controls about half of the northern Idlib province and other surrounding areas alongside other Turkish-backed rebels.

Lebanon hosts around two million Syrian refugees according to unofficial numbers from authorities, proportionally making it the country with the largest refugee community in the world. It has also hosted hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees since 1948.

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In recent weeks, the Lebanese army has reportedly sent back several Syrian refugees to Syria, saying they lacked legal documents or were wanted over criminal charges.

This has prompted condemnation from rights groups and activists who say Syrian refugees are at risk of being arrested, tortured, kidnapped, or even killed by regime forces upon returning to their country.

As Lebanon’s historic financial and economic crisis has worsened and the living standards of most Lebanese have plunged since 2019, anti-Syrian sentiment has been on the rise.

Many in Lebanon see the large number of Syrian refugees as a heavy burden on the country, which is already suffering from crumbling infrastructure and the near absence of basic public services. Sectarian political parties have often scapegoated them for the country’s woes.

Various plans to return Syrian refugees have been floated by Lebanese authorities, which have previously allowed Syrians to sign up for these voluntary return programmes.