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HRW: Lebanon residency regulations putting refugees at risk

[JURIST] Lebanese residency laws risk creating a large undocumented community of refugees living at the margins of society, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] report [text] released Tuesday. Residency regulations adopted in January 2015 require [HRW report] refugees to apply to renew their residency permits under two categories: those registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and those who are not and must find a Lebanese sponsor to remain in the country legally. According to HRW, prohibitive paperwork requirements, fees, and arbitrary application of regulations have exposed Syria's to corruption, and witnesses said that sponsors will sell sponsorships for up to USD $1,000 a person and are making a business of out it. The report calls for Lebanese authorities to ensure that no one fleeing Syria is forcibly returned to Syria; to waive the residency renewal fees for all Syrians; to cancel the sponsorship pledge for Syrians not registered with UNHCR; and to hold all security force members to account who ill-treat or torture Syrian refugees during raids, detention, and during interrogations.

The rights of migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issue around the world, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. In November UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed [JURIST report] the UN General Assembly and cautioned the international community to avoid discrimination against Muslims, especially refugees and migrants entering Europe, as a result of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris a week earlier. Also that month Amnesty International analyzed [JURIST report] the EU's approach to the refugee crisis and recommends changes to ensure international law is followed and human rights are appropriately valued. In October HRW called on [JURIST report] the EU and Western Balkans states to focus on remedying what it characterized as deplorable conditions for asylum-seekers in Europe. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights gave the opening statement [JURIST report] at the 30th session of the Human Rights Council in September in which he addressed, among other pressing human rights issues, the migrant crisis. Germany announced [JURIST report] that month that it was invoking temporary border controls at the nation's southern border with Austria, after thousands of immigrants entered the country.

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