Hundreds of Syrians exit Lebanese town over tensions: UN

Syrian refugees, who have been forcibly evicted from the Lebanese town of Bsharre in the wake of a murder allegedly committed by a Syrian national, find refuge in Tripoli, Lebanon, Nov. 26, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 27 November 2020

Hundreds of Syrians exit Lebanese town over tensions: UN

  • UNHCR spokesperson: ‘Collective punishment... for a whole community for an incident involving one individual is unacceptable’
  • Those who fled, said they were chased out of Bsharre, a Christian-majority town, after a Syrian was accused of shooting dead a Lebanese resident

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: At least 270 Syrian families have left a north Lebanon town, as hostility toward them mounted over a murder allegedly committed by a Syrian national, the UN refugee agency said Friday.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees condemned “collective reprisals against Syrians in the town,” of Bsharre, saying many of the families fled in fear without taking their belongings.
“Collective punishment... for a whole community for an incident involving one individual is unacceptable,” a UNHCR spokesperson said in a statement.
Many of those who fled the Christian-majority town said they were chased out by Bsharre residents after a Syrian on Monday was accused of shooting dead a Lebanese resident, sparking widespread tension and hostility.
Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported forced evictions of Syrians in the wake of the murder, but Bsharre’s mayor denied that the Syrians had left out of fear.
An AFP correspondent in Tripoli saw dozens of Syrian families gathering outside a UNHCR building in the northern city.
A group of young men in Bsharre “assaulted us, threatened us and started a fire” in the house, Umm Khaled, a 31-year-old Syrian mother of five told AFP.
“We picked up our children and ran away to Tripoli,” located more than 40 kilometers (25 miles) east, she said.
Yassin Hassan, a 30-year-old Syrian who had lived in Bsharre for years, said he was beaten by a group of men.
“We ran away... without taking anything from our homes,” he told AFP.
Tripoli is among the most welcoming destinations in Lebanon for refugees.
Lebanon, which is grappling with an economic crisis, says it hosts some 1.5 million Syrians, including around one million registered as refugees with the United Nations.
UNHCR said it received “a large number of refugees from Bsharre” in its Tripoli reception center.
They were encouraged to find alternative housing but those with nowhere to stay were moved to shelters, a spokesperson told AFP.
The reasons behind the murder that fueled anti-Syrian sentiments in Bsharre remains shrouded in mystery.
The Syrian suspect in question has handed himself over to authorities, the army said.
A judicial source said investigations were still underway.
The mayor of Bsharre says the town is home to nearly a thousand Syrians.
Authorities have called on refugees to return to Syria even though rights groups warn that the war-torn country is not yet safe.


Syrian Air makes first Aleppo to Beirut flight since 2011

Updated 15 January 2021

Syrian Air makes first Aleppo to Beirut flight since 2011

  • Syrian Air said a weekly flight between Aleppo and Beirut will continue
  • Syria’s conflict began in March 2011 and has killed nearly half a million people

BEIRUT: Syrian Air conducted its first flight in a decade between the northern city of Aleppo and Lebanon’s capital Beirut early Friday, resuming a round-trip route that’s been halted since Syria’s conflict began in 2011.
Precautionary measures against the coronavirus were in place, with passengers required to show PCR tests taken less than three days before the flight, according to Syria’s state news agency SANA.
The head of Syrian Air in Lebanon, Rashed Attar, said the flight arrived in Beirut carrying 36 passengers and returned to Aleppo with 44 passengers. Attar said a weekly flight between Aleppo and Beirut will continue.
Syrian Air currently conducts three flights a week between the Syrian capital of Damascus and Beirut.
Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and its former commercial center, had its airport closed for years because of the conflict. The city was divided until late 2016, when government forces captured rebel-held eastern parts of Aleppo.
Syria’s conflict began in March 2011 and has killed nearly half a million people. The fighting has displaced half the country’s population, including more than five million who are refugees outside the country.