Shafaq News/ Lebanon will start sending Syrian refugees back to their home country at the end of next week, Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Wednesday, despite rights groups' fears for their 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 neighbouring 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 would not be forced to leave.
General Security and social affairs ministry officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Lebanon's minister for displaced people, Issam Charafeddine, in July announced a plan that he said would seek to return some 15,000 refugees to Syria per month, basing his move on a claim that Syria had become largely safe after more than a decade of war.