Lebanon should upgrade the systems of its security institutions in a way that strengthens protection of the Lebanese communities and the Syrian refugees they host, according to Alert’s new policy brief with Lebanon Support.
Based on field research conducted earlier this year in three locations across Lebanon, the brief analyses the challenges of protecting local communities and refugees in a ‘hybrid system’ – where formal and informal security actors coexist and implement a mix of security measures.
The brief, entitled Security that protects, also argues that the current securitisation approach, which relies on negative deterrence, enhances perceptions of insecurity among the Lebanese and infringes on the rights and dignity of the refugees.
Security provision at the local level should involve policing that is more community-oriented, proactive and accessible. Continued support to the municipal police should capitalise on the high degree of trust in the institution among the communities, and build on its accessibility to refugees.
Security measures should also be tailored to the actual level of threat and existing concerns of the local communities and refugees. This can be achieved through the inclusion of new voices in security coordination, which represent the security needs of both Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugees. For example, security agencies could engage in dialogue at the local and regional levels with humanitarian and human rights organisations, including those working on refugee rights and protection, as well as with parents’ committees of public schools.
Additionally, the regulations on the legal stay of Syrian refugees should be revised to enable temporary legal stay. Such a measure will remove a burden from the Lebanese security and justice system, and allow Syrian nationals to report crimes and violations without fear of detention, while reassuring the Lebanese that foreigners are traceable and accountable to the law.
The policy brief was presented at a roundtable in Beirut organised by Alert, Lebanon Support and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), attended by 28 representatives of international organisations, UN agencies, national authorities, embassies, donor agencies, local NGOs as well as academics.
Lebanon Support presented the key findings of the research that informed the policy brief, while UN-Habitat highlighted results from research on refugees’ access to security in Beirut. This was followed by a panel discussion with the European Union delegation and the Lebanese human rights NGO Alef, looking at what policy support the security sector needs and the human rights aspects of security responses.