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Ashton warns Lebanon about deportations. The pace of refugees is accelerating

Syrian refugees in Lebanon (credit: UNHCR)

(BRUSSELS2) Catherine Ashton condemned on Saturday (August 4) the recent expulsions of Syrian citizens by Lebanese authorities. “Worry“, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs highlighted the fact that Lebanon is a signatory country to the United Nations Convention against Torture, formally prohibiting it from extraditing any person who could be a victim of torture in its native country.

«Lebanon must ensure that no expulsion takes place outside the international legal framework, and that valid and transparent procedures are put in place, in cooperation with all relevant domestic and international organizations, including UNHCR ” emphasizes the head of European diplomacy. The European Union has also reiterated the assurance of its material and technical assistance in the management of this humanitarian crisis.
500 refugees per hour in Lebanon!

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, Lebanon receives an average of 500 refugees every hour. Coming from Homs, Damascus, Dara'a or Aleppo, civilians are fleeing the fighting. "Most are women and children with myriad needs and dependent on outside help.” said the spokesperson for the United Nations agency, Melissa Fleming. Officially, in Lebanon, 33,000 people have registered and 1700 are awaiting registration. But most refugees – it is recognized internationally – do not register at the border, continuing towards the road to Beirut, Saida or Tripoli without registering with the United Nations.

The same situation is observed in Turkey where 44.000 Syrians, half of whom are children, have found refuge in the eight camps built by Ankara. In Iraq, the UNHCR is working to set up a new refugee camp in the Al-Qa'im region while the agency already has 12,049 Syrian refugees on Iraqi soil.

Finally, in Jordan, the brand new Za'atri camp welcomed 9.500 people for the month of July alone, a very large number of whom came from the cities of Homs and Dara'a. The Jordanian government estimates that there have been around 150.000 Syrian refugees on its territory since March 2011. A French surgical unit should soon be deployed at the border (see : A French medical and surgical unit deployed on the border with Jordan).

The humanitarian community is concerned

An initiative welcomed by the European Commission which recently increased its aid, increasing to 40 million euros (read Europe is doubling its humanitarian aid in Syria. Critical situation). "Any initiative is welcome” specifies the spokesperson for the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, K. Georgieva. “But of course for us, the essential question remains access to civilian populations inside Syria. We continue to urge all parties not to hinder or create obstacles to the action of humanitarian workers and respect international humanitarian law.”

With fighting continuing to escalate around Aleppo, the number of internally displaced people is estimated to be close to 1,5 million today, according to UNHCR. And the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, has also appealed for respect from humanitarian organizations while expressing her concerns. From "many people have taken refuge in schools or other public buildings in safer areas. They immediately need food, mattresses and blankets, medical equipment and drinking water.. "

The latest map released by the US State Department and the UNHCR, download here

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