Lebanese authorities arrange ‘voluntary return’ of 300 Syrians

Amid growing tensions between Lebanese and Syrians in Lebanon, Lebanese authorities have organised what they called the “voluntary return’’ of around 300 Syrian refugees to their home country on Tuesday.

The security sources made this known on Tuesday.

Refugees living in Lebanon were able to register for convoys to Syria coordinated with the Syrian authorities before departure.

Syrian refugees departing from Lebanon showed mixed feelings as they left the country.

“It’s a nightmare. I’m afraid of what will happen to my son and I.

“He will definitely be drafted into military service,” said one of the departing Syrian women.

Another woman, who had lived in the refugee camp in Arsal near the border with Syria for 14 years, set out with her two daughters and granddaughters.

“I’m looking forward to returning to my house in my village.

“It’s better to sleep in a house with a roof than in a tent,’’ she told dpa.

Human rights activists have been criticising the discriminatory practices used by Lebanese officials to force refugees to return to Syria for years.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported, among other things, that Lebanese authorities have arbitrarily arrested, tortured and sent Syrians, including opposition activists and army defectors, back to Syria in recent months.

Earlier this month the European Union promised Lebanon around 1 billion euros (1.08 billion dollars).

In return, the Lebanese authorities were to stop the flow of refugees currently living in the country in the direction of Cyprus.

Lebanon is home to more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees, making it one of the countries to have taken in the most refugees per capita in the world.

The Mediterranean state itself was in the worst economic crisis in its history, which can be traced back to decades of deeply entrenched corruption in politics and business. (dpa/NAN)