Timeline of Official Decisions, Draft Laws, and Raids Against Syrian Refugees 

June 2022 – October 2023 

During the past year, the number of political statements asserting that the armed conflict in Syria has ended has increased, calling for Syrian refugees to submit to the “voluntary return” plan proposed by the Lebanese government by the end of 2022. This plan aims for the return of 15,000 refugees per month, with the absence of any official participation from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and without any consideration to the United Nations’ or any international organization’s assessment of the reality of the situation in Syria. This political trend was accompanied by policies to pressure Syrian refugees to return to their home country, increasing their legal insecurity in Lebanon. Since April 2023, we have witnessed an escalation of arbitrary security crackdowns and raids on places of residence of Syrian refugees in multiple Lebanese regions, resulting in the arbitrary arrest and forced deportation of many refugees. In its report published on the 19th of May 2023, titled “Lebanon’s Violation of Human Rights Through the Forced Deportation of Refugees”, ACHR asserted that the Lebanese authorities arbitrarily arrested at least 808 refugees, with at least 336 detained refugees being forcibly deported.

In this context, Public Works Studio monitored and documented the systematic official policies, draft laws and inciting statements accompanying the aforementioned security crackdown. The result is a timeline that summarizes a series of notable events that took place during the period of June 2022 to October 2023. The events were thus categorized according to discriminatory practices against Syrian refugees carried out by:

  • Government, Ministries or Parliament 
  • Local Authorities (Municipalities or Governors) 
  • Security Forces 
  • Lebanese Civilians

When we placed these events / practices in chronological order alongside the monthly reports of eviction threats received at PW’s Housing Monitor hotline, the significantly increasing number of reports made sense. Since the beginning of February 2023, the number of reports reached 145 calls, to be compared with 30, the typical average number of monthly reports. The numbers then fluctuated and reached a peak of 227 reports in April, and 143 in August. 

It was evident that the predominant reason behind this surge in numbers was related to the incitement campaign carried out by official entities against Syrian refugees, which coincided with security raids and forced deportations conducted by security forces across the country. This was in addition to media campaigns that focused on demonizing Syrian refugees in Lebanon and attributing to them the responsibility for the economic collapse and crises affecting various sectors such as electricity, housing, water, waste management, and more.

Lebanese authorities, as part of this systematic and racist campaign, are encroaching upon the rights of Syrian refugees on a daily basis. This is specifically relevant in the Ministry of Interior’s decision dating 2 May 2023 and subsequent letters to various municipalities and other local authorities, which, under the pretext of conducting a census of Syrian refugees on Lebanese Territories, instructed local authorities to actively block Syrian refugees’ access to housing by denying them the permission to rent, unless they undergo a registration process before the municipality within which territorial scope they currently reside. The Ministry decision does not, however, provide any guidelines or guarantees that would ensure that said local authorities refrain from engaging in discriminatory practices, or from implementing measures that would lead to human rights violations, such as the further displacement and eviction of Syrian Refugees.

Additionally, the various municipal and governerate measures taken as a response to the aforementioned ministerial decision implement all sorts of discriminatory practices that actively limit Syrian refugees’ enjoyment of their right to housing, freedom of movement and right to work. 

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Housing Lebanon

The Decisions of the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities:

Controlling the Refugees’ Lives and Housing Situation

The Lebanese Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Judge Bassam Mawlawi, sent a letter to local authorities on May 2, 2023 in order to initiate a national survey campaign aimed at enumerating and registering …

The Eviction of Syrian Refugees: 

A Violation of the Right to the City, Housing, Movement and to choosing the Place of Residence

The sight of children swimming in the pool in downtown Beirut has not been unusual in recent weeks, as an organized media campaign to promote racism and hatred against Syrian refugees had considered …

The Municipality of Baysour Restricts the Freedoms and Housing Rights of Syrian Refugees Through a Series of Unlawful Practices

In late September, employees from the municipality of Baysour paid the village residents a visit, inquiring about their personal information, and informing them that they had one week to pay the sum of …

Understanding Housing Transformations Amid Recent Events

This periodic report documents cases received by the “Housing Monitor” from January 2022 to May 2023. It emphasizes the correlation between recent escalating events and the number of monitored cases, totaling 563 reports, …

An application to monitor Syrian Refugees:

turning every citizen into a fascist

Taking advantage of the crime of killing a member of the Beirut Guard Regiment in Gemmayzeh, a Beirut MP launched an application to report Syrian refugees in Beirut. MP Ghassan Hasbani – the …

Local Authorities Normalize Illegality:

15 Discriminatory Circulars Against Syrians Documented Between April 9 and 24, 2024

Following the Cypriot President’s demand to the president of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen, to mediate between them and the Lebanese authorities, for the latters to prevent the boats of Syrian …