NNA - Kataeb Party presented on Thursday policy solutions addressing the Syrian presence in Lebanon during a conference held at the Kataeb Headquarters in Saifi.
Kataeb Leader Samy Gemayel emphasized that Lebanon had moved from the 19th to the 3rd rank in population density, saying that people were concerned about Lebanon's future due to the waves of displacement.
Gemayel highlighted that amidst the deepening economic crisis, infrastructure problems, political and social issues, and various crises, the issue of displacement had compounded the difficulties faced by Lebanon.
"We see a youth population entering Lebanon that has raised significant concerns, and as stakeholders deeply invested in this issue, we proposed a set of solutions to address the displacement catastrophe that threatens the future of Lebanon and its people,” he stated.
"We have heard lectures from many countries that give us lessons in human rights, yet they themselves have set quotas and refused to accept refugees, while we, regardless of our reservations about the Lebanese government's policies, have received over two million refugees,” he explained.
"As Lebanese citizens, we have borne the crisis without resorting to any form of violence, meaning that the Lebanese people of all sects bear the burden of refugees because they feel a humanitarian concern,” he stressed.
Gemayel emphasized that the circumstances in 2023 were no longer the same as in previous years, with combat operations having ceased in over 80% of Syrian territory, making the possibility of return feasible.
“Today, the primary cause of displacement was the economic situation in Syria. Most Syrians had become economic refugees and preferred to stay in Lebanon because the economic situation there was better than in Syria. Consequently, the refugee status could not be applied, which led to a shift in their approach to the Syrian issue," he noted.
He indicated that Kataeb Party's proposals did not require amendments to laws or exceptional decisions or the convening of parliament, saying that they can be implemented by the caretaker government.
Gemayel then presented the policy solutions proposed by the Kataeb Party, which are as follows:
Establish a Refugee Status Determination Mechanism
The Lebanese Kataeb Party advocates for the prompt establishment of a fair and efficient Refugee Status Determination (RSD) mechanism, especially since a large portion of them have become economic migrants. This will ensure accurate data on the actual number of Syrians, their places of origin, and the genuine reasons for each individual's presence in the country. It would enable the Lebanese government and relevant organizations to assess the individual situations of Syrians and determine those who are still facing threats to their lives and in need for protection, as well as those who are economic migrants. This RSD process will facilitate informed decision-making about the best durable solution for each case and promote transparency and compliance with international and national laws.
Facilitate the Return to Safe Zones in Syria
Conditions are now met for the voluntary and dignified return of Syrians to safe areas in Syria. Therefore, the Lebanese Kataeb Party urges the government of Lebanon to collaborate with all relevant stakeholders to identify safe zones within Syria. Subsequently, the government should expedite the gradual return process for Syrians to areas where their return can be considered safe.
Revoke Asylum Status from Syrians Engaging in Back-And-Forth Travel to Syria and Deport Those Who Entered Illegally
The Lebanese Kataeb Party calls on the Lebanese security authorities to revoke the asylum status of Syrians who frequently travel back and forth to Syria and implement strict re-entry restrictions in accordance with Lebanese laws. The Lebanese Kataeb Party also demands that the Lebanese government review the treaty of brotherhood, cooperation and coordination between Lebanon and Syria along with` its subsequent agreements that exempt Syrian passport holders from obtaining an entry visa to Lebanese territories.
Furthermore, any Syrian who entered or re-entered Lebanon illegally should be subject to deportation. The Lebanese authorities shall exempt them from applicable fees and fines to facilitate their permanent departure. These measures aim to address security concerns and prevent the abuse of the protection conditions provided to them. By enforcing these restrictions, Lebanon seeks to maintain the integrity of its borders and manage the situation of Syrians more effectively.
Close Illegal Border Crossings with Syria
The Lebanese Kataeb Party urges the Lebanese Army to deploy along the entire borders with Syria and take immediate action to close all illegal border crossings and reinforce checkpoints on unauthorized routes used by Syrians, especially in the recent surge of illegal migration. These measures should be implemented in cooperation with the relevant municipalities and efforts should be intensified to combat the activities of all networks smuggling Syrians in border areas and prosecute them before the competent courts.
Provide Financial Incentives and Humanitarian Assistance to Returnees
The Lebanese Kataeb Party calls on the international community to provide financial incentives equivalent to one year’s worth of payments, delivered as a one-time lumpsum, to encourage Syrians to return home. These incentives and humanitarian aid are intended to contribute to the provision of essential services and create opportunities for livelihood, thereby fostering the sustainable return of Syrians.
Resettlement to Third Countries
The Lebanese Kataeb Party urges the government of Lebanon to initiate diplomatic efforts with regional and international partners to secure additional resettlement opportunities for refugees in third countries willing to accept them, either temporarily or permanently. This solution should prioritize individuals who cannot safely return to their country of origin due to the risk posed to their lives.
The Lebanese Kataeb Party calls on the Lebanese Ministry of Justice to implement the Lebanese and international laws and deport all Syrians who have been convicted of committing serious crimes in Lebanon.
Birth registration for Syrian Residing in Lebanon
To address the pressing issue of undocumented births among Syrians in Lebanon, The Lebanese Kataeb Party calls on the government of Lebanon to mandate the immediate registration of all Syrian newborns. Having accurate records of births safeguards their rights and facilitates their eventual repatriation to their home country or assists in the process of seeking asylum in third countries.
Establish Camps on the Lebanese- Syrian Borders
The Lebanese Kataeb Party proposes the establishment of well-regulated camps along the Lebanese-Syrian borders for hosting Syrians while they await their return or resettlement. These camps shall be managed by the UNHCR under the authority of Lebanese institutions in order to ensure the provision humanitarian assistance and essential services to Syrians, including food, shelter, education, and healthcare.
Strict Implementation of Lebanese Laws
The Lebanese Kataeb Party urges the government to prioritize the strict enforcement of Lebanese laws, including labor laws, municipal regulations, and the penal code. This approach is essential to effectively address issues related to the informal labor market, unlawful competition, and security concerns.