MOSCOW, September 30 (RIA Novosti) - Human Rights Watch has denounced Tuesday the recent attacks on Syrian refugees by Lebanese citizens, and the failure of Lebanese authorities to prevent such violence.
"Lebanon's security forces should protect everyone on Lebanese soil, not turn a blind eye to vigilante groups who are terrorizing refugees," Nadim Houry, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "The security forces have a duty to protect all persons in Lebanon, whatever their nationality."
According to HRW, Syrian refugees are attacked in Beirut, Mount Lebanon, and North governorates on the grounds of their nationality, while the authorities in the country do not take measures in order to prevent the attacks from happening.
The violence in the region has increased following the August clashes between Lebanese police and Syrian Islamist rebels and the subsequent execution of three Lebanese soldiers by extremists.
"The attacks against Syrians, most of them refugees, are being carried out in a climate of official indifference and discrimination, with the violence appearing in some cases to be attempts to expel Syrians from specific neighborhoods or to enforce curfews," the statement continued.
Some of the victims HRW interviewed claimed that they were physically abused in the presence of Lebanese security forces, who, however, did not take any action to stop the violence. The majority also said they did not report the attacks to the police since they did not expect any fair trial.
Last week, during an armed counter-terrorism raid in a Syrian refugee camp near Arsal, a city on the border with Syria, a group of armed people set fire to around 150 tents, which were designed to accommodate Syrian refugees. The Lebanese police arrested 450 people on the same day suspected of being involved in terrorist activities. Some of those who were taken under arrest confessed to having links with the "Jabhat al-Nusra" and "Islamic State" groups.
Syrian refugees had been coming to Lebanon since the civil war broke out in the country in 2011. According to the United Nations, the conflict in Syria has already claimed more than 191,000 lives while forcing some 3,218,000 people to leave their countries. Almost 1,200,000 of Syrians refugees have registered in Lebanon, while the others fled to Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.