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300 Syrians return from Lebanon

More than 300 Syrian refugees reportedly crossed the Lebanese-Syrian border on Tuesday, returning to their home country amidst a rise of anti-refugee sentiment in Lebanon.

Between 1.5 million and 2 million Syrians live in neighbouring Lebanon, having fled a war that began in 2015. Only around 815,000 are registered with the UN as refugees, in part because the Lebanese government stopped allowing new arrivals to register in 2015.

The convoy of returnees, who registered their interest in returning with the Lebanon’s government, was organised by the Lebanese security forces. The last government-organised  return, of around 750 people, took place in late 2022. While some Lebanese parties and politicians have been calling for the return of Syrian refugees for years, anti-refugee fervour and violence surged last month after some blamed the killing of a Lebanese politician on Syrians.

Some rights groups have argued that returns to Syria cannot be truly voluntary given the ongoing war and the fact that some returnees have been arrested and targeted for abuse.

Earlier this month, the EU announced a $1 billion aid package to the Lebanese government, mostly aimed at various border control methods to prevent migrants and refugees, including Syrians, from leaving the country and heading for Europe via dangerous crossings over the Mediterranean Sea.

For more on the recent wave of violence abuse against Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and how it has felt for some of those trying to get through it, read our recent story: Syrians in Lebanon stay indoors as fears of xenophobic violence grow.

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