The Syrian regime’s Ministry of Health issued a directive on July 22, 2020 compelling all Syrians wishing to travel outside Syria via Beirut Airport to pay the equivalent of 100 US dollars, according to the exchange rate of the Commercial Bank of Syria, for medical tests using PCR swabs solely to detect the COVID-19 coronavirus at any one of four centers in Damascus city.
SNHR has learnt that, on the same day, the General Directorate of Lebanese Public Security allowed admission across all Lebanon’s land borders with Syria for those who hold valid residency and their family members, as well as allowing air travel for those wishing to travel from Syria through Lebanon via the airport, provided that they possess a valid flight ticket, along with PCR certification issued by laboratories accredited by the Syrian Ministry of Health issued no longer than 48 hours before their travel date showing that they are free of the coronavirus.
We can affirm that, through this latest ruling, the Syrian regime once again demonstrates its continuing imposition of legislation violating fundamental principles of human rights and legitimizing the theft of already impoverished citizens’ money, with the actual cost of the medical tests conducted in the centers mentioned being far lower than the amount charged, while the exchange rate according to the commercial bank is 50 to 60 percent lower than the exchange rate of ordinary markets. Additionally, compelling citizens to undergo this test in Damascus exclusively, will further constrain Syrian citizens residing in other governorates, forcing them to travel unnecessarily and exposing them to a greater risk of exposure to the Covid-19 coronavirus.
We further emphasize that, even as the Syrian regime imposes more laws to constrain Syrian citizens in the areas under its control, it is still spending millions of dollars on the expenses and salaries for its security bodies, which continue to practice arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and torture against citizens, along with additional expenditure, also totaling millions of dollars, spent on the ongoing military build-up surrounding the governorate of Idlib.
In reality, the ruling regime will remain wholly indifferent to the suffering of the Syrian people and the international community must act to reduce the duration of this suffering by taking further effective political steps in order to help achieve an active political transition implemented according to a strict timetable, doesn’t exceed six months, by all parties toward democracy and human rights which can guarantee stability, the return of IDPs and refugees, and the relaunching of the economy.