Yet another group of about 1,000 Syrian refugees made the return trip from Lebanon back to their home country Thursday morning, the latest in a series of voluntary returns organized by Lebanese General Security.
The state-run National News Agency reported that about 42 people gathered with their baggage in Nabatieh in the early morning hours as General Security personnel cross-checked their names with a list.
A separate group took off from Tripoli – the biggest group yet to have departed from the northern city, according to the NNA.
Farther south, people gathered at Sidon’s Municipal Stadium and prepared to take off, the NNA reported.
General Security had announced Wednesday that about 1,000 Syrian refugees gathered at pick-up points in Abboudieh, Burj Hammoud, Nabatieh, Sidon, and Tripoli, and at the Masnaa border crossing.
The NNA reported that multiple buses provided by Syria carried groups through the Abboudieh crossing. Other groups were set to leave Lebanon through the Masnaa crossing.
General Security head Abbas Ibrahim said last month that about 110,000 Syrian refugees returned from Lebanon in 2018, local media reported at the time.
He did not specify how many refugees among the total had returned by themselves or through the trips that General Security has been organizing since the summer in coordination with Syrian authorities.
General Security’s numbers for refugee returns have been much higher than other estimates, including those from the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, and Lebanon’s caretaker minister of state for refugee affairs, both of which place the number in the low tens of thousands.