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What’s next for Syrian refugees in Lebanon?

As pressure is increasing on Lebanon’s economy, the Lebanese authorities are working to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees, despite the hesitation of the international community and the United States.
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As many Syrian refugees have entered their seventh year in Lebanon, there is mounting pressure in Beirut to accelerate the process of returning them to their home country. However, the United States and the international community continue to curb this impulse by arguing that Syria is not ready yet to facilitate such a large-scale return. The stakes are high domestically and regionally, as such steps could help break the Syrian regime’s regional isolation, particularly when it comes to connections through Beirut. 

Fearing a potential repeat of the long-term settlement of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, the Lebanese authorities did not establish camps for the nearly 1.5 million displaced Syrians. According to Human Rights Watch, around 74% of Syrian refugees aged 15 and above lack legal status, which further restricts their access to work, education and health care. With the economic situation in Lebanon deteriorating and the Syrian war winding down, this issue is taking center stage in Beirut and will no doubt top the priorities facing the next Lebanese government.

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