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PA 'pressuring' Lebanon to allow entry to refugees fleeing Syria

May 7, 2014 3:45 P.M. (Updated: May 8, 2014 9:50 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority officials have been pressuring Lebanese authorities to allow Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria to enter Lebanon, an official said Tuesday.

Anwar Abd al-Hadi, director of the PLO's political bureau, told Ma'an that the PA ambassador to Lebanon had been in touch with Lebanese officials to ensure access to Lebanon for Palestinian refugees.

Last week, 49 people -- among them eight Palestinians -- used false visas to enter Lebanon from Syria, Abd al-Hadi said.

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees said in a statement that 41 Palestinian refugees were deported from Lebanon over the weekend.

"Lebanese authorities reassured us that restrictions are temporary, and would hopefully be lifted in the coming days," UNRWA said.

"We recognize that Lebanon has given refuge to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the conflict in Syria, including about 50,000 Palestinians, and is in need of increased international assistance," UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said.

"However we underscore the position of the Security Council which has 'affirmed the importance of the principle of non-refoulement' and 'recalled its encouragement to countries neighboring Syria to protect all people fleeing the violence in Syria, including Palestinians.'"

At least 1,500 Palestinians have been killed in the ongoing Syria conflict, and around 250,000 Palestinian refugees have been forced to leave their homes in Syria due to violence in the country.

Prior to the conflict, 600,000 Palestinian refugees lived in Syria.

Some 760,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled from their homes during the 1948 conflict that led to the creation of the State of Israel, and today their descendants number around five million, spread across the world.
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