A group of Syrian refugees gathered at various meeting points across Lebanon Thursday morning in preparation to return to their home country, in the latest return trip organized by Lebanese General Security, the state-run National News Agency reported.
Around 70 people gathered at the Kamel Youssef Jaber Cultural and Social Center in the southern city of Nabatieh, accompanied by Lebanese Army and General Security personnel, awaiting two buses that were set to pick them up.
In the Bekaa Valley, 250 returnees left a number of refugee camps in the Arsal area and assembled in Wadi Hmayyed, in preparation to go through the Al-Zamarani border crossing into Syria.
Another group gathered at the Abboudieh border crossing in Akkar, where General Security was checking the names of those present against an official roster of those who had applied to return, the NNA said.
When General Security announced the return Wednesday, the agency said returnees would also be gathering in Tripoli, Sidon, Burj Hammoud and the Masnaa border crossing.
A day before its announcement, General Security released a statement rejecting claims by a Human Rights Watch representative that Syrian refugees were being pressured to return “before the appropriate time.”
General Security countered that “all returnees have done so voluntarily, either individually or in voluntary return trips organized by General Security and in coordination with the competent Syrian authorities, in the presence of UNHCR representatives who make sure that the refugees are returning voluntarily and willingly.”
Earlier this month, General Security announced that over 80,000 Syrian refugees have returned home from Lebanon since July, and that 7,670 did so through voluntary trips organized by the agency.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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