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Stop detaining Syrian refugees, rights group tells Lebanon

Arab World Materials 21 May 2011 02:45
Human Rights Watch on Friday said Lebanon security forces must stop detaining Syrians crossing the border into Lebanon as they flee violence and persecution in their country, dpa reported.
Stop detaining Syrian refugees, rights group tells Lebanon

Human Rights Watch on Friday said Lebanon security forces must stop detaining Syrians crossing the border into Lebanon as they flee violence and persecution in their country, dpa reported.

"Lebanese authorities should instead provide them with at least temporary asylum, and above all refrain from deporting them back to Syria," the New York-based group said in a statement.

Lebanese security forces have detained nine Syrian men and one child since May 15, allegedly for crossing illegally into Lebanon, it said.

"Sending asylum seekers and refugees back to Syria would make Lebanon complicit with any harm suffered at the hands of Syria's security services," said Nadim Houry, the Beirut director of HRW.

UNHCR, the UN agency for refugees, said Friday in Geneva that an estimated 1,400 Syrians, many of them women and children, entered Lebanon last week to join scores more who have fled the widening unrest in Syria.

Lebanon said that since April 28 about 5,500 Syrian refugees have fled to its northern border town of Wadi Khaled to escape the harsh crackdown by the Syrian regime on protesters.

Since March 15, Syria's pro-democracy protesters have been calling for political reforms and demanding that longtime President Bashar al-Assad step down.

Human rights groups say Syrian troops have killed more than 775 protesters.

On Thursday, US President Barack Obama challenged al-Assad to either embrace the reforms demanded by protesters or leave power.

"The Syrian people have shown their courage in demanding a transition to democracy," Obama said in a major foreign policy address on the Middle East. "President Assad now has a choice: He can lead that transition, or get out of the way."

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