A Lebanese official reported on Thursday, June 21, that the Lebanese and Syrian governments are organizing the voluntary return of thousands of Syrian refugees. No time frame has been given as of Friday, June 22, but the official suggested at least some returns would occur soon. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that it is not involved in the resettlement discussions and maintains that humanitarian and security conditions in Syria are not conducive to repatriation.
In April, Lebanon sent several hundred refugees back to Syria from the Chebaa area in coordination with the Syrian government. Lebanon’s president has called for refugees to return to “secure areas” in Syria and claims the presence of primarily Sunni Syrian refugees disrupts the balance between Lebanese Christians, Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, and other sectarian groups. Lebanon has taken in over one million Syrian refugees since civil war broke out in 2011. International human rights groups have accused the Lebanese government of forcibly evicting refugees in the past.
Individuals in Lebanon are advised to monitor developments to the situation and to adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.