Syrian refugees face dire human rights situation: UN report News
Y. Boechat (VOA), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Syrian refugees face dire human rights situation: UN report

A report released by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Tuesday highlights human rights violations and abuses endured by Syrians upon their return to Syria.

The report outlines a combination of challenges awaiting returnees, including general insecurity in the aftermath of the civil war, as well as ongoing violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law. The report also highlights an “alarming” economic situation. Additionally, the report states, “People nowadays are more afraid of not having food than of bombs,” and many Syrians lack economic access to basic goods and services, including food, shelter and healthcare.

Despite prolonged armed conflict and the current security situation, many Syrians who have previously fled chose to return to the country based on deteriorating socio-economic circumstances abroad. Particularly in neighboring countries such as Lebanon or Türkiye, Syrian refugees have been subjected to increasing pressure from authorities, facing arrests and deportation. In May 2022, Türkiye announced the “resettlement” of one million Syrian refugees.

The Syrian civil war began in 2011, resulting in approximately 6.7 million Syrian refugees. Since 2016, the UNHCR has verified and monitored the return of over 388,679 Syrians from neighboring countries to Syria as of November 30, 2023. However, a considerable number of returnees have found themselves compelled to leave Syria for a second time.

As a signatory to numerous human rights treaties, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Syria is obligated to uphold the rights of all individuals within its jurisdiction. Furthermore, international human rights law emphasizes the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits the return of anyone to a place where they would face a real risk of persecution, torture or other ill-treatment or a threat to life. According to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Voler Türk, “The situation of these returnees raises serious questions about the commitment of States to due process and non-refoulement.”

Due to recent normalization efforts between the Syrian government and other countries in the region, pressure on Syrian refugees to return will likely increase.