After years of people fleeing Syria and its civil war, and with the Syrian war drawing to an end, many successful attempts by sheltering countries have been taken to encourage the Syrian refugees to return home. Lebanon is one of them.
In a recent report, Lebanon’s General Security Directorate stated that 200,000 Syrian refugees have returned to their homeland from various areas in Lebanon since 2017 and that their return has taken place in full coordination with authorities in Syria.
The directorate added that the repatriation took place faster in 2018 than the recent past in 2019 due to the beginning of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Earlier this month, Lebanese President Michel Aoun said that Syrian refugees will have to leave Lebanon due to the tough economic situation that our country is going through.
"If the international community does not facilitate the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland, Syrians will escape Lebanon through the Mediterranean Sea to other countries to run away from the deteriorating economic situation in Lebanon," Aoun remarked.
President Aoun's remarks came days after his meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell Fontelles at the Baabda Palace. During that meeting, he called upon Spain to help Lebanon in changing the European Union's position in regards to supporting the return of the refugees to their home country.
"Lebanon looks forward to a change in the European position regarding the return of the Syrian refugees to Syria and to facilitate it under the international community's support," Aoun told Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell Fontelles during the meeting.
In February, Saleh Gharib, the Lebanese State Minister of the Displaced, said that our country will rely on the Russian's repatriation plan for the return of the Syrian refugees to their homeland.
"The Russian strategy will be adopted as a basis for our approach towards the return of Syrian refugees to Syria," minister Gharib told China’s official Xinhua news agency on February 6.
He also added that "Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is very much aware of the sensitivity of this issue, and all necessary steps will be taken in this regard."
The Russian repatriation plan has been set following a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Finnish capital city of Helsinki on July 16, 2018.
This plan specifies about 76 residential neighborhoods in the Syrian central provinces of Homs and Hama, as well as Damascus and the northwestern province of Idlib for the return of 360,000 Syrian refugees as a first step.
It also calls for the rehabilitation of houses in the mentioned areas, which would allow the return of 500,000 more Syrian refugees within two years.
On April 2019, about 1,000 Syrian refugees returned to their home country from Lebanon.
Their return was organized under the supervision of Lebanon's General Security in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Over 5 million people have fled from Syria since the onset of the Syrian Civil War back in 2011.
Lebanon hosts globally the largest number of Syrian refugees per capita (only Turkey hosts more in absolute terms), where more than one million Syrian refugees are registered with the UNHCR in Lebanon.
The Beirut government estimates that the true number of Syrians in Lebanon stands at 1.5 million.