- Main applicant: Dr. K. El Mufti (International Center for Human Sciences, Lebanon)
- Co-applicants: I. Slavova (International Alert, Lebanon) and the Lebanese American University, Lebanon
With the deadly and destructive conflict in Syria pushing into its fourth year, the number of Syrian refugees reached 2.5 million, most of which have located themselves in nearby Lebanon. In fact, according to the latest UNHCR reports, Lebanon now hosts a million refugees.
This refugee crisis has hit Lebanon as it battles with its own internal security and weak governance issues. Lebanon is still struggling with the state-building process that was launched at the end of its civil war, more than 20 years ago. A Syrian component was always present in the Lebanese social tissue through economic, commercial and political ties, but with the large influx of this distressed population into its territory, Lebanese authorities have been overwhelmed by the situation and have failed to offer even minimum protection standards to those fleeing the conflict in Syria. No comprehensive response plan to this crisis was designed, but instead, local communities have been called on to shoulder the additional burden on host areas, which has weighed on them both from a security and a socio-economic perspective.
While of the refugee population in Lebanon is ever-growing in size, these vulnerable groups fleeing the combat zones benefit from little protection as they land in different parts of the country (mainly the North and the Bekaa).
As such, the research issue the CISH is proposing to address is the Syrian refugees' access to justice in Lebanon, whether through the formal justice system or through informal mechanisms set up by local communities and other stakeholders this project offers to identify.
From deportation, to torture, to arbitrary curfews and arrests and false accusations, to direct assault against them or their habitat, Syrian refugees are enduring difficult ordeals, as the Lebanese social and political representatives are being increasingly vocal on the undesirability of these groups in Lebanon. The Maronite Patriarch recent open call for the reestablishment of Syrian refugees out of Lebanon and into refugee camps in Syria amply illustrates growing resentment of key figures in the Lebanese establishment.
The research offers to look into the relationship between these vulnerable groups and the Justice system in Lebanon in this increasingly hostile environment and to offer elements of comparison with other contexts nearby like the Turkish model and how it has been dealing with this issue since the outbreak of violence in Syria.