Lebanon prevents Syrians from entering for embassy appointments

Lebanese-Syrian border - 2022 (Siraj Kamdar/Maps)

Lebanese-Syrian border - 2022 (Siraj Kamdar/Maps)

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About two months ago, Reem headed to Lebanon to attend an interview at the British Embassy in Beirut. Upon her arrival at the Lebanese border crossings, security officers denied her entry.

The officer justified the denial of entry because the British Embassy had not sent her name through the security communications to the Lebanese border despite her having all the required documents, in addition to the letter stating her appointment time.

Reem, a 22-year-old, returned to her city of Daraa, trying to contact the British Embassy to reschedule her appointment or find another solution, but to no avail.

Reem was not alone, as the same situation applied to Syrians who wanted to enter Lebanese territory by land to attend an interview at one of the embassies closed in Syria, without their names being on the border.

Lebanon’s General Security Directorate grants, through its website, a 48-hour entry permit with a departure statement, to Syrians who wish to enter Lebanese territory for an embassy review, provided they hold a valid passport and proof of an appointment.

Entry is restricted to names provided by foreign embassies to the Directorate and circulated at the land border centers, and is limited from seven in the morning until six in the evening.

Twice for the same reason

Qais, a 27-year-old living in Damascus, told Enab Baladi that he and his family tried to enter Lebanon twice for an interview at the French Embassy, but without success.

Despite having all the required documents and the embassy appointment letter, the Lebanese border officer refused his entry because neither his name nor his family’s name were on the list at the border.

Qais requested to postpone the interview the first time, and he received approval to reschedule five months later, despite the difficulty of requesting a postponement.

As for Lujain, she arrived at the Lebanese border a day before her appointment at the German Embassy, fearing she would be late for her scheduled time at nine in the morning. However, the border officer refused her entry, stating that entry is allowed only on the day of the appointment.

When Lujain, from the city of Douma in the Damascus countryside, returned the next day at seven in the morning, her entry was denied again because her name had not arrived through the security communications with the German Embassy.

The German, Turkish, and Austrian embassies’ offices send the names of Syrians having appointments to the Lebanese border crossings, unlike the other embassies, as observed by Enab Baladi from appointment holders and tourist companies.

In cases where a name does not exist, the appointment holder must issue a “telegram” costing 4.9 million Lebanese pounds, plus photography fees, totaling 5.1 million Lebanese pounds (approximately 57 US dollars).

What do the embassies say?

The German Embassy in Beirut explained to Enab Baladi that allowing any foreign citizen to enter Lebanese territory is a decision made by the Lebanese government based on rules published on the General Security website.

Accordingly, the German Embassy sends lists of names to national security and informs applicants of this practice, explicitly asking if there is any objection.

Regarding applicants missing their appointments due to the inability to cross the border, the embassy stated that there is a possibility to find a practical solution to schedule another appointment.

Enab Baladi attempted to inquire from both the French and British embassies about why they do not send the names of appointment holders to the border points, but had not received a response at the time of publishing this report.

In the same context, Enab Baladi previously contacted Beirut’s General Security Directorate as a Syrian citizen. One of the officers said that Syrians’ entry, who do not have a name at the border points, depends on “their luck,” as some officers allow them to enter while others do not permit entry without the embassy sending the appointment holder’s name to the border.

Alternatives

Reem tried to find alternatives to enter Lebanon, but she found herself with only the option of traveling by air, with a ticket costing $2500 or paying a bribe of $2000 to the border officer to let her in—both amounts being beyond her means.

After “missing the interview,” she no longer intends to go to any embassy in Lebanon, due to what she described as “poor treatment” by the Lebanese border officers.

Lujain, who wishes to join her fiancé in Germany, started contacting the German Embassy in Erbil instead of traveling to Lebanon.

As for Qais, he and his family are still waiting in Damascus, hoping to get approval for a tourist visa application at the French Embassy in Jordan.


Enab Baladi’s correspondent in Daraa, Sarah al-Ahmad, contributed to this report.

 

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