HRW Bombshell Report Concludes: Syria Is Not Safe for Returning Refugees!

Published October 20th, 2021 - 07:50 GMT
Syrian refugees
Millions of Syrians have left the country since the war began in 2011. (BULENT KILIC/AFP)

In 2017, thousands of Syrian refugees decided to go home from neighboring countries, in an attempt to restore some life normality after years in limbo. Yet, the reality they faced upon returning to Syria was "shocking."

A report released by Human Rights Watch today revealed that Syrian returnees between 2017 and 2021, particularly ones who left refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan for good faced "grave consequences" at the hands of the Syrian government and the militias that fought alongside the Syrian regime.

The 72-page report titled "Our Lives Are Like Death: Syrian Refugee Returns from Lebanon and Jordan" is based on interviews with 65 former refugees who chose to go back to Syria as soon as relevant peace was reported in their areas. However, Syrian forces have reportedly committed a variety of violations against them, in what seems to be in retaliation for political stances in the wake of the Syrian conflict.

HRW has documented 13 cases of torture, 3 kidnappings, 5 extrajudicial killings, 17 enforced disappearances, and 1 case of alleged sexual violence, all targeting returnees from Lebanon and Jordan. Moreover, a majority of the returnees faced extreme difficulty finding jobs so they can provide for their families after being in Syria, especially since most of them could not return to their houses due to the war destruction.

The report also highlighted the fact that some of the refugees were encouraged and sometimes pressured by Lebanese and Jordanian governments to return to Syria.

The human rights organization has recommended "an immediate moratorium on all forced returns of Syrians and habitual Palestinian residents of Syria to all parts of Syria from all countries". The organization also cited decisions by European governments, most prominently Denmark, which has been forcing Syrian refugees to return home, arguing that no fighting has been reported in their towns and cities is "enough evidence that they can go back to Syria."

Written by Riham Darwish

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