Globalization of resettlement
Syrian refugees in Lebanon are being relocated to third countries
One might look at the change in number of registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon during 2015 and incorrectly assume Syria’s civil war is on the wane. Since the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) first began recognizing Syrian asylum seekers in Lebanon in 2012, their numbers have grown year-on-year until 2014. In 2015, however, the number of registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon began going down. The slight decrease (approximately 77,000 refugees or 6.7 percent as of November 30, 2015 — according to the most recent data available) is no indication that stability is returning to Syria. Rather, it is the direct result of a Lebanese policy decision to push the number down.
The decline is in part attributed to stringent visa restrictions put in place in January 2015 for Syrians attempting entrance into Lebanon. The country still grants Syrians humanitarian visas, but UNHCR says “very few” cases have since qualified. In tandem with these new visa rules, the government passed a decree in 2015 to deregister refugees, also lowering the number of refugees supported by UNHCR. In an email exchange with Executive, UNHCR explains that, “On April 24 , the Ministry of Social Affairs noti- fied UNHCR that refugees having entered after January 5 and having subsequently registered should be deregistered. UNHCR was duty bound to comply and inactivated individuals who had entered Lebanon after that date.” Based on data from UNHCR’s website, Executive calculates that at least 37,304 Syrians lost their refugee status as a result of this decision. Under normal circumstances, UNHCR only deregisters refugees if they have died, left the country or stopped showing up for meetings or other interactions with UNHCR. In the first nine months of 2015 — the most recent data available — UNHCR’s representative in Lebanon, Mireille Girard, told Executive in a November interview that 149,000 refugees had been deregistered, up from the 125,000 deregistered in 2014.
A  GOVERNMENT POLICY TO DEREGISTER REFUGEES HAS LOWERED THE NUMBER OF REFUGEES SUPPORTED BY UNHCR