The Syrian regime “does not want the return of Syrian refugees” after turning down requests of several hundreds seeking to go back to their hometowns, the pan-Arab al-Hayat daily reported on Monday.
“Lebanon has become certain now that the Syrian regime doesn’t really want the refugees' return. The Syrian regime has not given them permits that allow their return,” a French source told the daily on condition of anonymity.
The source said the issue was highlighted during talks between French Deputy Diplomatic Advisor Aurelien Lechevallier and the President’s chief adviser Mireille Aoun.
“Some 3000 displaced are able to go back to Syria and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said they can return to Qalamon. But, the Syrian regime is not giving permits. It allowed only 200 to return while giving some women permits to return, excluding the men,” he added.
“Paris realizes how big the burden of Syrian refugees is no Lebanon, but it also believes that the Syrian regime does not want that,” stressed the source.
On Sunday, Damascus has approved the return of 450 refugees from Lebanon from a list of 3,000 requesting to do so.
Lebanon hosts just under one million registered refugees from the conflict in neighboring Syria, although authorities say the real number is much higher.
As some battlefronts in Syria's devastating seven-year war have quietened, Lebanese officials are ramping up demands that refugees go home.
On Thursday, several hundred Syrian refugees left the Lebanese border town of Arsal, returning to their hometowns around Damascus.
The operation was also coordinated between Lebanon's General Security and Syrian authorities.
On Friday, the head of Lebanon's Hizbullah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said his powerful movement was creating a mechanism to help Syrian refugees return home, in coordination with Lebanese authorities and Damascus.
Nasrallah said the group was setting up centers with phone numbers and social media accounts where refugees could sign up to return home.
Earlier this year, around 500 refugees also left southern Lebanon for Syria in a return organized by Beirut and Damascus.
Several thousand have independently left in recent years.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
Naharnet © 2019