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Unwanted in Lebanon, unable to leave, Syrian refugees fight for a future

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Reportage. In a country strangled by the economic crisis, it is becoming more difficult for 1.5 million Syrian refugees to live every day. They now fear being driven out en masse.

written by Sonia Grieco

Topic Refugees


November 29, 2021

Lebanon has always been a kind of station for Syrians. A place of passage to other countries for those who cannot or do not want to return to Syria when the conflict is over, or a waiting room for those who still have the desire to return home one day.

UNHCR estimates there are 1.5 million refugees here, of whom almost 80% are without a residence permit (known as an iqama), which, in the absence of the recognition of refugee status (Beirut did not sign the Geneva Convention of 1951), is a necessary condition both to be able to live in the country without fear of deportation and to be able to apply for a visa to leave.

The Syrians are stuck in a country that the Lebanese are leaving en masse — hundreds of passport requests are registered every day and tens of thousands have already left — and for them the exits are closing.

A crisis is strangling Lebanon. The lira is now waste paper (the dollar on the black market, which the Lebanese refer to, changes to 24,000 lire, while the official rate is 1,500 lire). Prices are skyrocketing, and the labor market has collapsed, which is causing embassies to issue fewer tourist visas, often a first step to settling elsewhere.

Furthermore, Lebanon has no land exits, bordering Israel with which it has never signed a peace agreement and Syria at war. In the last two years, many have attempted the route to Cyprus, and recently the possibility of attempting the European route through Belarus, to get to Poland, has also been attempted among Syrians in Lebanon.

With few appealing options, there is a queue in front of all the offices of the General Directorate of Public Security to obtain the iqama, which itself is not easy to get.

The Lebanese authorities, Human Rights Watch........

© Il Manifesto Global

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