Syrians entering Lebanon face new restrictions

New restrictions on Syrians entering Lebanon come into force on Monday, further tightening the flow of asylum seekers trying to escape the war.

Previously, travel between the two countries was largely unrestricted, but now Syrians will have to obtain a visa.

It is the latest in a series of steps to stop the influx of refugees. Lebanon already hosts more than a million.

It is unclear what the rule will mean for the many Syrians already in the country and not registered as refugees.

Before now, Syrians could stay in Lebanon for up to six months automatically. Under the new measure, Syrians wanting to enter Lebanon will have to fulfil certain criteria in order to be granted a visa at the border.

Every Syrian wanting to enter the country will need to state a clear purpose for their visit, and, if approved, a visa will be issued for a certain duration.

Syrians coming to work in Lebanon will also have to be sponsored by a Lebanese individual or company.

Huge strain

Lebanon has long been struggling to cope with the number of refugees fleeing the war in Syria.

There are currently more than 1.1 million registered refugees in Lebanon, equivalent to a quarter of the population, putting a huge strain on the country’s infrastructure and resources.

The Lebanese government says the actual number of refugees in the country is about 1.6 million.

In October, Lebanon’s social affairs minister announced that the country would stop accepting all refugees except emergency cases, but would still allow Syrians to enter for other purposes, such as work and tourism.

The UN said the number of refugees registering with it in Lebanon had dropped dramatically as a result.