“The shocking stories of torture, disappearances and ill-treatment that returned refugees have had to endure should make it very clear that Syria is not safe for return,” said HRW investigator Nadia Hardman.
The organization published a 70-page page on Wednesday report , entitled “Our Lives Are Like Death: Return of Syrian Refugees from Lebanon and Jordan”.
The report is based on interviews with 65 people, among them both returned refugees and family members. Among these, 21 arrests or imprisonments without law and conviction, 13 cases of torture, 3 abductions, 5 extrajudicial killings, 17 cases of disappearances and 1 case of sexual violence have been documented.
Economy in ruins
Among the countries that believe it is safe to return refugees to Syria is Denmark. Their decisions have been heavily criticized internationally.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), for its part, maintains that Syria is insecure and will only facilitate the voluntary return of individuals, not the forced return of entire groups of Syrians.
Hardman prioritizes that the economic situation in Syria also makes it impossible for many to re-establish their homeland.
– Extensive violations of property rights and other financial difficulties also mean that a sustainable return is impossible for many, she says.
The war in Syria has devastated large parts of the country and destroyed the economy. Nine out of ten Syrians live in extreme poverty, and many are now forced to take out loans to survive.
UN summit visits Syria
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, this week called on the world to provide more humanitarian aid to Syria, including those who had chosen to return home.
I liked visiting Syria today where he could meet families who had been refugees in Lebanon or internally displaced in Syria.
– They talked about several years of suffering, and they are exhausted, said Grandi, who says that the families now live in houses with major material damage, and that they lack water and electricity.
– They still require schools and hospitals, and they need something to live with. This is a humanitarian imperative, says Grandi.
Perceived as disloyal
Several have told HRW that they are being accused of disloyalty or “terrorism” because they chose to flee Syria.
“No one wants to be safe in Syria until the security services stop terrorizing people,” said a 38-year-old Syrian refugee in Lebanon who returned to his hometown of Quneitra southwest of Damascus.
In September, Amnesty issued a report that also documented torture and rape of returned Syrians. Others have been removed without their families having heard from them since.
“While several countries, including Denmark, Sweden and Turkey, are limiting protection and putting pressure on refugees from Syria to return home, the shocking testimonies in Amnesty International’s report are proof that it is not safe to return to some. part of Syria “, writes the organization, which believes that all countries that return Syrians ignore” the terrible realities on the ground “with knowledge and will.
Pushing refugees away
HRW points out that several of Syria’s neighbors have adopted laws and regulations that make the lives of refugees more difficult, in an attempt to push them home. Demolition of homes, curfews and deportation of refugees from local communities are among the measures in Lebanon.
In Jordan, work in several industries is reserved only for Jordanian citizens. It makes it harder to find and make a living, and only 2 percent of the refugee family in Jordan have enough funds to get enough food.
Similarly, according to HRW, there are no significant increases in the number of refugees being returned home voluntarily from Jordan and Lebanon. Those who leave are often under extreme pressure at the same time as they have little information about the conditions in their home country.
Major internal crises
At the beginning of the war, Syrian refugees in both countries were especially welcome, but gradually prejudice and hostility towards the Syrians increased. They can land together to receive 3 million refugees and many acids that can act as cheap labor while the countries’ own citizens struggle to find work.
Lebanon is currently going through one of the world’s biggest economic crises ever, at the same time as there are fears of greater sectarian violence.
HRW believes that it is the world’s donor country that must fully finance the humanitarian programs for Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and other neighboring countries.
Asks the Danes for a U-turn
So the challenge can not contain credible information about what will happen to the Syrian refugees when they return home, all countries in Syria must be insecure, says HRW, which especially asks Denmark to reverse its decision.
– No country should force refugees to return to Syria so challenge the Syrian government commits extensive human rights violations. After ten years, returned refugees risk continuing to be persecuted by the same government from which they fled, Hardman said.