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Palestinians fleeing Syria denied entry into Lebanon
Published Saturday 31/08/2013 (updated) 28/09/2013 18:00
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Stuck between the Iraqi and Syrian border, al-Tanf is now home
to nearly 700 Palestinian refugees who fled violence in Iraq but
were denied access to Syria.(Phil Sands/IRIN)
MASNA'A (IRIN) -- Palestinian refugees fleeing the violence in Syria have been refused entry into Lebanon for three weeks now.

Since August 6, according to Human Rights Watch, the Lebanese government has turned back Palestinians who had originally sought refuge in Syria when they were forced from their homes in 1948 and 1967, and are now fleeing once more with their descendants, this time from the conflict in Syria.

A source at the Lebanese General Security confirmed to IRIN the government is no longer letting Palestinians from Syria into Lebanon.

Makram Malaeb, program manager for the Syrian response at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said exceptions would be made for "humanitarian cases".

According to the UN agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, more than 92,000 Palestinians from Syria have already sought refuge in Lebanon, joining the 455,000 Palestinian refugees hosted in Lebanon before the Syrian crisis, largely in overcrowded slums that have often been hotbeds of unrest.

Ahmed, 28, was living in Syria's Yarmouk camp for Palestinian refugees with his wife and three children when the conflict in Syria broke out. He told IRIN his story.

"I was displaced from my house six months ago after the shelling of Yarmouk. I had to move to several areas due to the fighting. One month ago, I checked on my house, and discovered I had lost my shop and house because of the shelling.

"On 3 August, I decided to send my family [to Lebanon] after my children started to suffer from war trauma. They had nightmares all the time and cried every time they heard an explosion. I sent them to join their cousins in Baalbek camp, while I waited for my travel documents to be renewed.

"I looked for a job, but couldn't find one. On 13 August, I decided to join my family after I lost everything in Syria. I went to the border.

"The journey between Lebanon and Syria is risky, not because there is shelling but because we have to bribe and face the Shabiha [pro-Assad Shia militia] all the time. I was traveling on a minibus with 16 other people. They could have arrested us at any moment if we didn't bribe them.

"We had to cross several checkpoints, and when we reached Syrian customs, I waited long hours and paid a bribe. Eventually, they allowed me to pass after interrogations on who I know and the purpose of my visit to Lebanon.

"When I crossed over to the Lebanese customs, I was surprised by the lines of Palestinians waiting to cross. We were pushed and beaten by customs officers. We were treated like animals by the General Security.

"The first day of my arrival [at the Lebanese border post], I had to wait in line to take my turn for more than 11 hours, and then I was sent back [to the Syrian border post]. We were told to stay [in no man's land] until they allowed us in, but nothing happened.

"During my two days at the border, I tried to bribe Lebanese security to enter. They were about to arrest me for offering a bribe, but I did it because I wanted to find a solution for my family, scattered between Lebanon and Syrian.

"After waiting for two days, I lost hope of entering Lebanon and decided to return to Syria. I went back to Damascus, where I'm now living in the entrance of a school in a small kiosk at the main gate. I'm waiting for my family to return - to live and die in dignity rather than being humiliated by Lebanese customs. I call them every day asking them to return, but they refuse. If just to enter Lebanon, all this happened to me, how I can live and raise my children in such a country?

"First we were refugees in Syria, and now we are seeking refuge in Lebanon. Like many other Palestinians, I feel we are double refugees."
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1 ) Arnold / Canada
31/08/2013 15:42
I better read lots of anti-Lebanon comments about this story or else I will have another bit of proof that the world only craps on Israel when Israel wants to deny more refugees to be allowed in the country.

2 ) Robby / USA
31/08/2013 18:38
"When I crossed over to the Lebanese customs, I was surprised by the lines of Palestinians waiting to cross. We were pushed and beaten by customs officers. We were treated like animals by the General Security." As usual the Arab world puts the Palestinians on the bottom of the heap.

3 ) Colin Wright / USA
01/09/2013 04:10
To Robby #2: 'As usual the Arab world puts the Palestinians on the bottom of the heap.' Jeepers. I guess they should just go back to Palestine.

4 ) Jay Miller / USA
04/09/2013 21:46
Three things would give this world peace. No more religion, no more borders (that is one country) and one language. But I guess that's too much wishful thinking.

5 ) JoeFattal / USA
05/09/2013 20:19
In that part of the world is purely economics from the host country. Lebanon has its internal problems, Israel from what I get in the US news some people don't even have enough food to feed themselves and Christian agencies like the "Fellowship of Jesus" ask for $25 donation to feed Israelis while they keep on building settlements. Jordan has plenty of refugees, Egypt also as we know has its problems. So if that man has problems he need to look at the man next to him. Its sad but its true.

6 ) Rami / GB
06/09/2013 21:30
Glad to read that it is a different country than Israel this time that is guilty of mistreating Palestinians. This time it is the Arabs themselves.

7 ) southparkbear / usa
23/09/2013 15:14
no one can match arabs love to palestinians

8 ) Colin Wright / USA
23/10/2013 00:07
To Arnold #1: 'I better read lots of anti-Lebanon comments about this story...' Your hypocrisy is staggering. Lesse: Palestinian refugees. Now where would the logical place be for them to go? Hmmm... I Know! Palestine! Now, what is the entity that prevents that? Lebanon?

9 ) Colin Wright / USA
23/10/2013 00:10
To Robby #2: 'As usual the Arab world puts the Palestinians on the bottom of the heap.' And where do the current rulers of Palestine put them? As usual, the hypocrisy of Zionists is stunning. Of course, since they have to lie to even BE Zionists, that kinda goes with the territory.

10 ) Colin Wright / USA
23/10/2013 00:12
southparkbear #7: 'no one can match arabs love to palestinians' How about the tender love Zionists have always treated them with?

11 ) Colin Wright / USA
23/10/2013 00:16
Lebanon -- with a population of 3.5 million and problems aplenty of their own -- has already taken in 700,000 Palestinian refugees. That's 20% of its population. Compare and contrast to the reaction of Israel, which aside from the detail that it has taken in NO Palestinian refugees, went completely nuts when 60,000 Africans (less than 1% of its population) entered the country. No Israel supporter is conceivably in a position to criticize Lebanese actions in this case.

12 ) southparkbear / usa
27/10/2013 19:17
hey, pay attention, there is no more palestinian refugees problem. thank you colin for taking all original and only 700,000 'refugees' into lebanon. please cancel the talks, case is closed
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