If a program of voluntary assisted return to Syria is provided as an option for refugees who wish to find a secure and dignified alternative to their present cramped circumstances in Lebanon, AND if coordinated with programs in Syria to ensure that such refugees can choose where they will settle, can be reunited with family members in Syria, can be properly housed according to their needs and can quickly find income-generating activities to support their families, AND if well-planned with the participation of all stakeholders, including especially the refugees concerned themselves, AND if implemented progressively over a long period of time so as to offer a durable solution to each and every concerned refugee family and ensure the sustainability of their settlement back in Syria, AND if it allows for refugee families to go back and forth between their present residence in Lebanon and their future settlement in Syria so as to allow them to “test the waters” and ensure that this is effectively the best solution for themselves and their family, it will serve a purpose.
If hundreds of thousands of refugee families are forcibly and massively returned to “30,000 square kilometers of Syrian Desert”, without proper planning and coordination, only because Lebanon wants to get rid of a problem, it is a recipe for another humanitarian disaster.
Refugees are not boxes that can be transported and dumped anywhere. They are people who need respect for their autonomy and agency. They need to be offered options and be allowed to exercise choices.
Many thanks to Faten.
“A growing number of Lebanese politicians are seeking to help the Syrian refugees currently residing in the country to return home, as Beirut is apparently no longer able to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of displaced people living there…
Kabbani also added that Lebanon needs to resolve this issue as soon as possible as the country now finds itself unable to accommodate so many refugees any longer. Furthermore, there are no programs aimed at integrating Syrian refugees into Lebanese society due to the fact that there are so many of them, approximately 1.5 million at the last count.”
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