Syrian refugees in Lebanon will not be able to return home as long as the Bashar al-Assad regime rejects taking them back, veteran Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt said Monday, reports Anadolu Agency.
Jumblatt, president of the Progressive Socialist Party, said the refugees are afraid to go back home out of fear of being tortured by the regime.
“It is impossible for the masses [of refugees] to return home while the Syrian regime refuses to receive them,” he added.
The regime has accepted less than 20 per cent of the refugees who have attempted to return to Syria, said Richard Kouyoumjian, Lebanon’s minister of social affairs.
Damascus is the decision-maker for the refugees’ return, not Lebanon, he said.
Mireille Girard, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) representative in Lebanon, said more international aid is needed to alleviate the burden of countries that are hosting Syrian refugees.
Lebanese officials have been calling on Syrian refugees to voluntarily return home since last year. The authorities say the refugees are putting pressure on the country’s scarce resources and the international community has failed to support the refugees.
The UNHCR puts the total number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon at 997,000.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN officials.