Lebanese president insists on return of Syrian refugees

Lebanese children look from the rooftop of their home at a Syrian camp in the eastern Lebanese border town of Arsal. (AP/File)
Updated 25 June 2019

Lebanese president insists on return of Syrian refugees

  • Aoun calls on the UN to provide assistance to internally displaced people inside Syria

BEIRUT: Lebanese President Michel Aoun has insisted on the return of Syrian refugees in Lebanon to their country, even if not to where they had been displaced.

He told a visiting US delegation on Monday that the return of refugees “can’t wait for a political solution to the Syrian crisis, as it may take time due to international tensions over the Syrian situation.”

Aoun said: “The wave of Syrian displacement has produced negative repercussions that has impacted all Lebanese sectors.”

He added: “Lebanon, which has provided all the humanitarian and logistical facilities for refugees during the Syrian war, believes that Syrian territory, except for Idlib (province) and its surrounding area, is now stable, making it easier for refugees to return.”

Aoun called on the UN to provide assistance to internally displaced people (IDPs) inside Syria in order to encourage refugees to return and contribute to their country’s reconstruction.

The wave of Syrian displacement has produced negative repercussions that has impacted all Lebanese sectors.

Michel Aoun, Lebanese president

“Lebanon continues to organize return trips for refugees in coordination with the concerned Syrian authorities, who welcome their return,” he said, adding that his country “hasn’t been informed of any returnees getting harassed.”

The head of the delegation, Frederic Hof, said that after its meetings with Lebanese officials, it will submit a report on ideas, stances and proposals to resolve the Syrian crisis and its repercussions.

Some 1 million Syrians in Lebanon are registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The Lebanese General Security said it has facilitated the return of 172,046 refugees between December 2017 and March 19, 2019, through legal crossings.


Outspoken Iranian rapper Amir Tataloo arrested in Turkey

Updated 2 min 1 sec ago

Outspoken Iranian rapper Amir Tataloo arrested in Turkey

  • Tataloo was preparing to travel to the UK when he was detained, reportedly at the request of Iran
  • Fans and colleagues fear for much-loved musician’s safety if sent back to Iran

LONDON: Amir Tataloo, one of the most popular Iranians on social media and outspoken critic of the regime in Tehran, was arrested on Tuesday as he prepared to leave for the UK.

The rapper, whose real name is Amirhossein Maghsoodloo, was detained in Turkey where he had been living to pursue his career in music. Reports said the arrest was at Iran’s request.

Tataloo, who has performed for the BBC, is a long-standing opponent of Iran’s ruling mullahs and has denounced the establishment for not licencing his music, which Iran deems “Western, non-Iranian and immoral.”

He has been arrested in Iran multiple times for his lyrics, which spoke out against the government’s human rights abuses and restrictions on press freedom.

Iran International TV channel reported that Turkish authorities are currently working to facilitate Tataloo’s extradition to Iran, prompting fears for his safety from colleagues and fans.

A fan-made petition advocating for his release had already garnered more than 15,000 signatures.

The administrator of Tataloo’s social media accounts, known as Ronak, warned that “if Amir is handed over to Iranian police, it is unclear what is going to happen.”

She said: “Think you wake up today and think that from tomorrow you will go to a European country after years of pain… but instead they touch you and want to bring you back to the same country where your life has always been in danger.”

Tara Sepehri Far, Iran Researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Arab News that Tataloo has been harassed by authorities repeatedly, and that his “story of past persecution for artistic activities is very concerning right now.” 

Tataloo could “face a real threat of persecution or torture” if returned to Iran.

Even more worrying though, she said, is the way Iranian media is treating the arrest.

Far told Arab News that Iran is using this as an opportunity to “show that they’re capable of bringing people back to Iran.

“They’re using it as a propaganda tool and as leverage to show that Iran can project power beyond its borders.”

Tataloo has more than 3.2 million followers on Instagram and 1.25 million on Facebook.

The arrest comes at a time of heightened civil unrest within Iran, which has been wracked by months of anti-government protests.