BEIRUT (Al Manar) – Several buses transported Syrian refugee families to Syria from different areas in Lebanon on Wednesday morning, as part of a government repatriation scheme revived earlier this month, local media reported.
Hundreds of Syrian refugees living in Lebanon returned home on Wednesday, the first day of voluntary repatriations organized by Beirut.
Lugging suitcases, power generators, fridges and even chickens, around 700 Syrians who had agreed to cross over gathered from early morning near the northeastern Masnaa border crossing.
Lebanese authorities say the repatriations are under a revived program run coordinated by the country’s General Security agency.
In a press conference held Tuesday at the General Security headquarters in Beirut, Abbas Ibrahim, the director general of the agency, said that “The return will be voluntary, and we will not force any displaced to return; this is a principle we have established, and we seek to reduce the burden on Lebanon.”
“There are currently 2,080,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon and approximately 540,000 Syrians who have voluntarily returned to their country since the Lebanese General Security started implementing the plan in 2017,” Ibrahim said.
He revealed the opening of 17 public security centers in all Lebanese regions in order to organize the voluntary return of the Syrian refugees.
The Lebanese official also stressed that the file of the displaced Syrians is a national one and that “returning them to their land is a national duty that we must carry out.”
Meanwhile, Ibrahim noted that Lebanon has been under pressure by international organizations regarding this issue.
He said international “organizations and others that claim to be humanitarian are trying to impose their will” on Lebanon in the issue.
“We will not bow to pressures, because the interest of the Lebanese people comes first. We won’t force any refugee to return but we are seeking to alleviate the pressure on Lebanon,” Ibrahim added.
That return mechanism which started in 2017 was put on hold with the outbreak of COVID-19. Outgoing Lebanese President Michel Aoun revived it this month and it resumed on Wednesday.