Syrian Refugees Register to Return Home

Two women walk alongside their children in a Syrian refugee camp Two women walk alongside their children in a Syrian refugee camp ULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images

5 June 2018

New Law Prompts Syrian Refugees to Return to Avoid Permanent Exile

On 4 June 2018, the mayor of a northeastern town in Lebanon confirmed that the list of refugees registered to return to Syria has been finalized. The list contains the names of 3,000 refugees still awaiting approval of their decision to return home. The possibility of returning to Syria has been discussed with the Syrian government, but the refugees will only be permitted to return to areas that are deemed safe.

Currently, Lebanon hosts approximately 10 million Syrian refugees, despite its inability to ensure their safety. Many of the refugees are unable to obtain  work permits and find shelter, leaving many of them to perish in the cold. Although conditions in Lebanon are far from ideal, the decision to return has likely been prompted by the proposal of a new Syrian law that would permanently seize abandoned property, meaning that Syrian refugees would have no home to return to after conditions improve in their country. Although the situation in Syria is still dangerous and violent, the proposed law has prompted many  refugees to return before they are effectively permanently exiled. The Syrian government has claimed this law was proposed in an attempt to rebuild Syria and repopulate areas affected by war, but opposition groups are suspicious of an ulterior motive.

During a conference in April 2018, The European Union and United Nations stated that they do not support the decision for refugees to return to Syria, considering the current unsafe and threatening conditions in the country. The NRC Secretary-General also expressed concern that the refugees’ decision to return home was not entirely voluntary, and therefore should be avoided until conditions in Syria improve.


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