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80 Percent of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Want to Return Home

80 Percent of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Want to Return Home

Friday, 22 March, 2019 - 07:15
Syrian women prepare food for their family outside their tents, at a Syrian refugee camp in the town of Bar Elias, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, March 29, 2016. (AP)
Beirut - Paula Astih
Hana, a Syrian refugee who left the Syrian city of Aleppo with her three children in 2012 to settle in one of Beirut’s southern suburbs, is now closely following-up the Lebanese government’s new plans to handle the refugee file and speed up their return home.

About two years ago, Hana presented a demand at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Beirut to move and live in a third country.

However, she is worried that new Lebanese measures would force her and her family to return to Aleppo, and therefore, end the dream of being relocated in Canada or Australia, where she hopes to start a new life, away from woes she expects in Syria.

Hana is one of thousands of Syrians living in Lebanon and dreaming of moving to a third country, after presenting resettlement applications at the UNHCR.

UNHCR spokesperson, Lisa Abu Khaled told Asharq Al-Awsat that although Syrian refugees in Lebanon show great enthusiasm to depart to a third country, more than 80 percent of them want to return to their homeland.

She stated that the period between accepting refugee resettlement submissions and leaving the country depends on where those refugees are located and could take a year or more.

“Since 2011, UNHCR already presented resettlement submissions of 86,500 refugees present in Lebanon, including 74,664 Syrian refugees for 22 resettlement states,” she said, adding that the number includes 52,045 Syrians, who have actually left Beirut to other countries.

Currently, 35 countries are participating in the UNHCR resettlement program. In 2008, the program included just 27 states.

Resettlement to a third country offers protection and a durable solution to tens of thousands of refugees every year.

The United States continues to be a worldwide leader in accepting refugees, followed by Canada, Australia and northern Europe countries.

Many Syrian refugees chose not to pass through the UNHCR to move to a third country. Those refugees end up taking the dangerous and illegal migration routes by sea, with many dying before reaching their final destinations.

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