Lebanon ‘imposes curfews on Syrian refugees’

Lebanese towns and villages are increasingly imposing curfews on Syrian refugees, restricting their movements, Human Rights Watch says.

Police, and in some places vigilante groups, were enforcing the curfews in 45 municipalities, the group reported.

The restrictions were contributing to a “climate of discriminatory and retaliatory practices”, HRW warned.

Almost 1.2 million Syrian refugees are living in Lebanon, which has a population of only 4.5 million.

Tensions have risen since August, when clashes between Lebanese security forces and jihadists militants in and around the border town of Arsal left dozens dead.

‘Hostile environment’

Human Rights Watch said some of the curfews for Syrian refugees had been in place for more than a year, but that a number had been imposed following the fighting in Arsal.

The restrictions were typically announced with a large banner erected in a main street, outlining the times during which Syrians, “foreigners”, or “foreign workers” could venture outside or gather, it reported.

A Syrian refugee living in Zalka, in the Metn district, said that in August municipal police had prevented him from getting medicine for his sick child from a pharmacy next to his house at 20:45.

Another Syrian said his friend had been stabbed in the town of Rawda by several Lebanese men who told him he could not go out at night.

HRW warned that the curfews violated international human rights law and appeared to be illegal under Lebanese law.

“The authorities have presented no evidence that curfews for Syrian refugees are necessary for public order or security in Lebanon,” said Nadim Houry, the group’s deputy Middle East director. “These curfews are just contributing to an increasingly hostile environment for Syrian refugees in the country.”

The BBC’s Lina Sinjab says the Lebanese authorities have also tightened restrictions on Syrians trying to enter the country and deployed soldiers on to the streets to search for people suspected of links to jihadist groups.

But our correspondent says the most worrying development is the growing anger among Lebanese, which has resulted in many acts of discrimination and violence. They include

  • Some families blocked the road from the Syrian border to Beirut in an effort to prevent Syrians entering their country
  • A Lebanese TV station ran a poll on whether Syrians should be prevented from buying food to pressure them to leave
  • A man posted a video online of him terrifying three young refugee children by threatening to behead them

BBC

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