Lebanon begins ‘voluntary’ repatriation of Syrian refugees

Hundreds of Syrian refugees have left the remote Lebanese mountain town of Arsal in a convoy of trucks headed for the northern border on the first day of a controversial repatriation scheme.
Lebanese authorities say 751 Syrian refugees began returning to Syria on Wednesday under a voluntary programme coordinated by Lebanon’s General Security, the agency responsible for safeguarding the country’s borders.
Syria has been devastated by a civil war that started in 2011 following an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Much of the country remains in ruins, with power stations, schools and water services ravaged by the conflict.

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from Arsal, said the returnees were being handled by Lebanese authorities without the cooperation of the United Nations or other human rights groups.

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