We, the undersigned organizations, call on United Nations’ Secretary General, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the international community, in particular the EU, France, Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom, to exercise their power to prevent the forced return of Syrian refugees under duress or pressure from Lebanon to Syria. Syria is not yet safe for the return of refugees as returnees are at risk of detention, torture, and even death.
France, Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom have declared that “safe, dignified, informed and voluntary return” to Syria is not possible at this time. In particu- lar, the German Foreign Ministry noted that Syria remains unsafe for the return of refugees and that a safe return for any category of people to any area in Syria cannot be guaranteed or verified. Despite the ongoing war and safety concerns, the Lebanese Minister of Social Affairs Ramzi Msharrafieh stated that Lebanon’s “plan” to return Syrians to Syria was approved at the “Damascus Conference on the displaced” in November.
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