To the attention of: The Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, the Secretary of State of France, the Ambassador of France in Lebanon, the Consul General of France in Beirut, Lebanon.
The following text is translated from the French original which has been forwarded to the officials listed above.
THEY CAN’T STAY IN LEBANON AND THEY CAN’T GO BACK HOME
The crisis: Mohamed Barghouth, his wife, Abir Ghannam, and their children were forced to leave their home in Homs, Syria when the city and their family home were destroyed by Syrian-government bombs in 2013. Since then Mohamed, Aber and their five children (age 1-15 years) have been living in Lebanon as refugees. The family is living in extreme poverty. We have already helped them to avoid one tragedy by paying for urgent surgery for seven-year-old Yumma, who was at risk of going blind. Their situation is becoming extremely precarious.
Recently, 2500 Syrians have been expelled from Lebanon by force and the Lebanese government is putting pressure on the Barghouth family to return to Syria as well. It is an illusion to think that they can will be welcomed back by the Syrian government. Members of the Barghouth family are supporting anti-government militias. Aber’s brother, Hassan Ghannam, has obtained refugee status in France because his family name would put him in danger in Syria. Their sister Ramzia is waiting to meet with CNDA and be recognized as a refugee. One of their cousins, an army colonel, deserted and was assassinated by the Syrian regime. Their return to Syria now could only be accomplished at the risk of their lives.
The situation in Syria now: On 11 September 2019, the UN advised that “in the zones controlled by government forces, civilians, including returnees, have been victims of arbitrary arrest and detention in recent months (…) patterns of arrests and disappearances are reappearing. Hundreds of families have been informed this year, with little explanation, that their disappeared parents are no longer alive.” concluded the UN investigators (ref: https://news.un.org/fr/story/2019/09/105132).
The family’s legal status: The Barghouth family has tried to enter the “humanitarian corridor” and obtain a visa for France with the help of the “Fédération Protestante”. They had several meetings with the federation and the consulate, and received a receipt for all the documents they supplied with their visa application. After months of waiting and a lot of hope that they would finally be able to rejoin their family, their visa application was refused without explanation. We are asking the Consul General of France in Beirut to reconsider the request of this family and allow them to become a part of French society.
They are awaited in France: Their family is ready to welcome them.
Our associations are committed to using the abilities and resources of all our members to help this family as much as possible. We have a great deal of experience working with refugee families and are committed to helping them.
This is one family that we can really help. Please approve visas to allow them to enter France and be properly recognized as refugees like other members of their family.
ATD Quart Monde (A tous la dignité) ; STOP racisme Pézenas; ABCR (Association Bittéroise Contre le Racisme) Collectif Migrant-e-s Bienvenue 34 ; Secours Catholique Pézenas ; LSR (Languedoc : Solidarité avec les Réfugiés; Cimade Béziers ; ACREF ( accueil réfugiés Hauts cantons) ; AMIC ( Accueil Migrants en Clermontais )