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February 08, 2018 | English and Arabic | Dima Mahdi
Understanding Refugee Politics in Lebanon and Calls for Repatriation

Lebanon currently hosts more than 1 million Syrian refugees, accounting for the highest number of refugees per capita in a single country worldwide.
Even as the Syrian crisis has entered its seventh year, the Lebanese state has shown little interest in adopting a national response to it, unless such a plan is focused on the repatriation of refugees to Syria. Despite this, the state has failed to formalize a repatriation plan and by most estimates would not have the capacity to execute such a plan. Moreover, Lebanese political discord has paved the way for non-state   actors, particularly Hezbollah, to take the lead in the promotion of safe areas in Syria and negotiating the repatriation of Syrian refugees.
In the absence of a national framework, refugee policies are de facto dictated by municipalities and security agencies, which has opened the door to the adoption of initiatives considered to be outside the scope of municipalities’ legal authority. Hence, a legal framework of action for Syrian refugees should be adopted by the Lebanese government in order to address refugees’ economic, social, and security statuses and rights. Such a framework of action could guide municipalities and security agencies toward progressively improving their respective policies on refugees at the local level.

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