The Lebanon Humanitarian INGO Forum (LHIF), which comprises 51 international NGOs, has urged Lebanese authorities to stop demolishing refugee shelters. LHIF said demolitions carried out by troops are traumatic for refugees who have fled war.
The Lebanon Humanitarian INGO Forum (LHIF), which comprises 51 international organizations including the Norwegian Refugee Council, has urged Lebanese authorities to stop the demolition of refugee shelters in the north, stressing that the measure is excessive, punitive and traumatic for those fleeing war, especially children.
In a joint statement, LHIF said that on August 8, personnel from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) partially demolished over 350 refugees' homes in four tented settlements in Akkar, in northern Lebanon. The Lebanese armed forces raided over 30 refugee settlements at dawn in northern Lebanon last Thursday, and at least five more raids were conducted the following day, according to the statement.
Authorities said the tents were demolished because they did not comply with a recent order from Lebanon's Higher Defense Council that all non-temporary structures be dismantled or face demolition. In addition, 47 people, including a minor, were arrested because they did not have legal residency permits.
''We believe that it is excessive and punitive to arrest refugees on this basis and to use demolitions as a means for doing so'', the organizations said. ''For refugees who have already fled a brutal war, having hundreds of soldiers enter their community at dawn, equipped with sledgehammers, and being given only a few moments to gather belongings before they demolish their homes is a traumatic event. This action is particularly traumatic for children."
The statement also said that the government and people of Lebanon have shown ''extraordinary compassion and generosity in providing asylum to refugees from Syria."
"We ask that Lebanese authorities cease these demolitions and work with the community, including refugees, landlords, and municipalities, to find a solution that allows refugees to continue to live in safety and dignity, where all parties respect the rule of law," the organizations said.