Oxfam's reaction on the new restrictions on entry for Syrians into Lebanon

Published: 5th January 2015

"The new restrictions on entry for Syrians into Lebanon are part of a worrying, wider trend reflecting quite simply less and less opportunities for Syrians to escape conflict inside Syria," said Camilla Jelbart Mosse, Oxfam's Syria Campaign Manager.

"Neighboring countries - particularly Lebanon and Jordan - have welcomed huge numbers of Syrians fleeing conflict to date in an unprecedented crisis. These countries have a clear obligation to ensure that refugees can continue to seek safety, but they are facing enormous strain and the increased restrictions should also be seen as a collective failure of the international community as a whole." 

"In order to ease the burden on Lebanon in particular, rich countries must radically increase the amount of aid to the country - both funding for humanitarian assistance and development assistance that would help vulnerable Syrians and Lebanese - but they must also be willing to welcome Syrians through resettlement and humanitarian admission of 5 percent of the total refugee population."

Notes to editors

- On 30 December 2014 Lebanon's General Security announced new measures on the entry of Syrians into Lebanon, to take effect on 5 January 2015. Under the new regulations Syrians can apply for six types of visa - tourist, business, student, transit, short stay and medical - in order to enter the country. A spokesperson for the Social Affairs Ministry subsequently stated that "extreme humanitarian cases" would be still be allowed entry, although criteria for determination of these cases remains unclear.

- The government of Lebanon's policy on refugees from Syria, adopted by the Council of Ministers in October 2014, states that the government will “discontinue the displacement through the borders, except for exceptional humanitarian cases”, in order to “reduce the numbers” of refugees.

- This is the first time that Lebanon has required Syrians to apply for visas. Citizens of both countries have been able to travel freely across their shared border since Lebanon gained independence in 1943.

- Oxfam has called on rich countries to resettle at least 180,000 vulnerable refugees from Syria by 2016 (5 percent of the total projected refugee population), fully fund the humanitarian response while increasing bilateral support to host governments, and prioritize measures to encourage a political solution to the conflict in Syria 

Contact information

Joelle Bassoul 
Media advisor, Syria response 
Based in Beirut 
Mobile: +961-71525218 | jbassoul@oxfam.org.uk 
Skype: jobassoul | @jobassoul

For updates, please follow @Oxfam.

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Learn more: What does it feel like to be a refugee? Perceptions from Syrian refugees in Jordan and beyond