Lebanon will start sending Syrian refugees back home at the end of next week, President Michel Aoun said on Wednesday, in a process a security official described as voluntary, despite rights groups' fears for the refugees’ safety.
Lebanon hosts the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. The government estimates that the country's population of over 6 million includes roughly 1.5 million refugees from neighboring Syria, though well under 1 million are registered with the UNHCR.
An official source said that the returns would only include those who had voluntarily signed up to go back with Lebanon's General Security agency, in coordination with the country's social affairs ministry, and refugees would not be forced to leave.
The Lebanon office of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said it was "not facilitating or promoting the large-scale voluntary repatriation of refugees to Syria."
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