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8 ways for Syrians to get into Lebanon, each comes with a cost

Features | 2018-04-14 01:57:04
8 ways for Syrians to get into Lebanon, each comes with a cost

(Eqtsad)- Syrians experiencing restrictions in neighboring countries is hardly a new development in recent years. These restrictions manifest themselves, most notably, in the residency requirements in the asylum country and the means through which to enter that country.

Fleeing Syria has become a very difficult feat, as neighboring countries have shut their doors in the face of Syrians, most importantly Lebanon – the closest haven to the residents of Damascus and its suburbs. Lebanon has specified a number of requirements of entry for Syrians and refused to take in refugees.

There are many reasons that could drive Syrians to Lebanon, from visiting or seeking education, to attending an interview at an embassy of an European state. Syrians can be afforded an entry in Lebanon through different ways, each comes at a different cost.

However, entering Lebanon is not completely permitted, but merely for specified days or hours. Anyone who exceeds the duration they were given is considered an “offender”, and they are made to pay a fine, or might face jail or find themselves forced to return to Syria, according to Syrians living in Lebanon who spoke to Eqtisad.
Most Syrians, according to “Hasan”, resort to illegal means to enter Lebanon through the aid of smugglers. This costs something between $200 and $350. Smuggling remains an unguaranteed gamble, as a person might face arrest or beating. Smugglers use border mountains.
“Hasan”, who lives in Lebanon, adds that there is a way that requires a military permission. While it might cost more, it is easier, as the entry is through an official crossing. However, fraud and possibility of arrest are common whether on the Syrian side or the Lebanese Side.
Those who enter Lebanon illegally won’t be able to move freely unless after they’d settler their situation with the Lebanese General Security and paid a sum of $200, in addition to bringing a Lebanese sponsor. This method is common among youngsters who get summoned for mandatory military service or wanted in Syria and can’t pass through standard ways. 

-Standard means-

 Ghiath, a 50-something elder, needs to travel to Lebanon regularly to visit his sons and family. Ghiath uses his personal car, one of the standard ways to enter Lebanon.

Ghiath explains, “I register my car at the borders and acquire a card for 15,000 SYP which I have to renew every year. Every time I enter, I have to pay a vehicle’s entry fee of 6,000 SYP and 2,500 SYP for each person.”

Only the driver and their family members are allowed entrance to Lebanon, unlike past years where all passengers could enter without checking.

Ghiath notes, “We can only stay for 24 hours. We have to leave during that time, or we might be fined.”

The elder “Abu al-Nour” who doesn’t own a private car resorts to booking a hotel room in order to enter Lebanon. The booking is done through a fixer who secures a fake booking that costs 70-200 USD.

Abu Al-Nour tells Eqtisad, “The duration of the booking depends on how much I pay. I have to leave Lebanon before it expires, or I might be fined and banned from entering Lebanon for an entire year.”

Also, a hotel booking requires the possession of $2,000 that the person who wishes to enter Lebanon has to show on the borders before Lebanese General Security. This procedure proves that the person who wishes to enter is a tourist rather than a refugee.

“Sometimes, we are not allowed to enter even if I fulfilled all requirements,” Abu al-Nour clarifies. “This happens when border guards are supported by Hezbollah militias.”

In addition, anyone who is in possession of a flight ticket with visa or residency or has an appointment for an interview at a foreign embassy in Beirut is permitted a 48-hour entry.

People who possess unions’ cards, which are issued by the Labor Union Association, or who owns a commercial or industrial register with an old date of issue are granted an entry for one week to one month, in addition to medical cases provided they can secure an appointment at a hospital or a doctor’s visit.

The journalist Abdul Hafiz al-Houlani, however, believes that the aforementioned cases are not easily applicable and that these permits are only afforded for “pro-regime Shabias or people similar to them.”

Al-Houlani notes, “Ordinary people can’t acquire these permits, and they have to pay large sums of money to enter Lebanon for a limited period of time.”

There have been rumors circulating on social media claiming that the situation will be improving, as these complications will be no more and an open-door policy will take its place. However, people living there have stressed to us that these are merely rumors, and the situation is still the same, if not made more difficult by newly issued and enforced decisions.

(Reporting by Shams el-Din Matoun)

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