To: Irish Minister of Defence Leo Varadkar

Use Irish Peacekeeping Record in Lebanon to protect Syrians from harassment from Lebanese Army

Use Irish Peacekeeping Record in Lebanon to protect Syrians from harassment from Lebanese Army

Please use your good offices in Lebanon and at the UN to demand protection for Syrian refugees against harassment and intimidation by elements of the Lebanese Military to force them to return to Syria

Why is this important?

Lebanon, along with Turkey and Jordan, has been extraordinary in providing refuge to Syrians fleeing war and persecution in their homeland since 2011. While the numbers and circumstances of how the refugees have been accommodated vary greatly, the willingness of Syria's neighbours to accept proportionately massive numbers of refugees has undoubtedly saved countless thousands of lives.

In Lebanon, specifically, with a native population of just 4.4 million, upwards of 1 million Syrians have sought refuge. This, clearly, has created massive challenges and strains on the services and infrastructure of a country which itself is only recovering from years of turmoil and strife but, in general, Syrians have been able to feel relatively safe in Lebanon.

Of late however, elements of the Lebanese army have escalated a campaign of intimidation and harassment against Syrians with the putative intention of forcing people to return to Syria. Just last week, on two successive nights, soldiers under the command of Lebanese Army Intelligence Colonel Melhem Hadchiti and 9th Brigade Commander Brigadier General Pierre Abu Assaf carried out raids in around 30 camps around Arsal in freezing temperatures. People were forced out of their tents into the cold with no regard for their welfare or dignity while their tents were ransacked. Many hundreds were detained and suffered torture and abuse.

As a country with a long and distinguished military record in Lebanon and the Golan Heights in the form of UN peacekeeping deployments, the Irish Army is uniquely placed to exert its influence with the Lebanese Army. We are urgently but respectfully requesting the Minister for Defence Leo Varadkar to use his influence and good offices with the UN as well as with his counterpart in Lebanon Yaacoub Sarraf to ensure that these unforgivable violations against suffering and defenceless people cease immediately.

References:
Deutsche Welle: Germany says Syrian deportees could face reprisals: reports
https://www.dw.com/en/germany-says-syrian-deportees-could-face-reprisals-reports/a-46367849

Out of Syria: shifting routes and returns:
https://www.iss.europa.eu/content/out-syria-shifting-routes-and-returns

Union of Relief and Development Associations - Number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon :
http://urda.org.lb/en/details.aspx?ID=1426

Lebanon

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL


Reasons for signing

  • Syria is a v ery dangerous place for refugees to be forcibly returned to.
  • Ireland always says we pride ourselves on our humanitarian record. Well here is a major humanitarian injustice we can do something about. Even Lebanons own Minister for Refugees has flagged serious concerns for those who return to Syria. 20 were killed just the other day.
  • • "In no part of Syria is there comprehensive, long-term and reliable protection for persecuted people." A recent confidential report by Germany's Foreign Ministry deems it unsafe to send people back to Syria .(dw.com).The Irish govt due to our peacekeeping record in Lebanon has influence and must insist that harassment & forced return to Syria by Lebanese Military must end now .

Updates

2018-12-09 10:53:37 +0000

25 signatures reached

2018-12-07 10:40:55 +0000

10 signatures reached