İrem GÖL -TDO- According to Human Rights Watch, more than twenty municipalities in Lebanon implemented restrictions targeting Syrian refugees amid the coronavirus pandemic, including some lockdown measures which do not apply to other foreigners or Lebanese citizens. The group reported on Thursday that at least eight municipalities put tight curfews in place in early March, limiting the movement of refugees about eight hours a day even before the country’s cabinet announced a nationwide lockdown last month.
Nadia Hardman, refugee rights researcher at Human Rights Watch said: “There is no evidence that extra curfews for Syrian refugees will help limit the spread of COVID-19. The coronavirus does not discriminate and limiting the spread and impact of COVID-19 in Lebanon requires ensuring that everyone is able to access testing and treatment centers.”
As of Thursday, Lebanon had recorded 494 cases of coronavirus and 16 deaths caused by it. 93% of these cases were Lebanese patients, with just three Syrians testing positive. The government on March 21 imposed the dusk-to-dawn curfew while some municipalities had already implemented measures limiting the movement of Syrian refugees to only five hours or in another case to eight hours. As a result, the Syrian refugees face greater limitations on their movement than those imposed under the government’s lockdown measures.
Human Rights Watch said the under the human rights law, rights cannot be restricted based on nationality, and this is a fundamental principle of the law that applies even during the emergencies.