Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Lebanon "forcibly deported" nearly 2,500 Syrian refugees to their native country in the last three months, according to government information obtained by Amnesty International, which urged the Middle Eastern nation to immediately halt the removals.
On Tuesday, the international human rights organization said in a statement that Lebanon began deporting Syrians on May 13 through the implementation of a plan to start removing those who entered Lebanon illegally after April 24.
Since then, 2,447 Syrians have been deported to Syria, Amnesty International said, citing General Security and Minister of Presidential Affairs data, communicated in official correspondence.
"We urge the Lebanese authorities to stop these deportations as a matter of urgency," said Amnesty International's Middle East Research Director Lynn Maalouf, adding that as long as independent monitoring bodies are not allowed access to Syria, "there is no way of determining whether returnees would be at real risk of serious human rights violations."
She said until such a monitoring system can be established in Syria, forcing refugees to return to the country is a violation of Lebanon's non-refoulement obligations, which prevents governments from forcibly sending refugees to countries where they are likely to experience persecution.
As of July 31, there are 926,717 Syrian refugees in Lebanon registered with the United Nations Refugee Agency, according to U.N. data.
"We reiterate our call to the international community to share the responsibility for refugees with host countries, including Lebanon, mainly by re-activating their resettlement programs and by using their leverage to call for access to independent monitors in Syria," Maalouf said.