BY: Aziz Taher/Reuters
Following the Lebanese Government’s decision of “limiting mobilization” to prevent the spread of COVID-19, taking preventive measures and imposing curfew to ensure the health of its residents as of March 15, 2020, all the organizations that worked on this statement, observed the general preventive measures and procedures to be taken by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Lebanon (UNHCR) to protect Syrian refugees in the camps.
Three COVID-19 cases were registered among Syrian refugees, and we are concerned about their inability to access the appropriate health care and the necessary referral mechanism to diagnose laboratory cases. It’s the responsibility of the UNHCR and medical agencies working with refugees to provide them with the necessary medical care and take the necessary precautions to avoid new cases
While the signatories of this statement welcome the cooperation of the Lebanese government with the security forces through curfew implementation in Lebanon, it has come to our attention that some Lebanese municipalities have adopted circulars containing discriminatory language targeting Syrian refugees, including decisions and instructions of staying inside the camps and adhering to the Ministry of Health instructions to restrict mobility, cancel social occasions, reduce gatherings, and not receiving visitors. Although these measures are being applied to all local residents and not only to Syrian refugees, this discriminatory language may increase the tension between the host and refugee communities especially during this pandemic.
During these circumstances, the Lebanese community, in several towns, has shown very positive and responsible initiatives supporting Syrian refugees such as exempting them of house rentals due to their work suspension based on governmental preventive measures of closing shops, institutions, and workshops.