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Syrian government fires at Syrian refugees in Lebanon; European countries stop supporting refugees under pretext of COVID-19

Editing: Jaffar Al-aga |
TranslationEditor: Glory Jabr |
Translation: Muhammad Ghaith

Syria - SMART

Total of deaths from coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to increase, exceeding 160,000 worldwide. The Syrian government announced new cases of COVID-19 without further details, as the Syrian government fired at Syrian refugees in Lebanon to prevent them from crossing to Syria. The Doctors Without Borders (MSF) stated that European governments stopped supporting the refugees under the pretext of COVID-19.

Syrian government fires at refugees:

On Sunday, the Syrian government announced five new cases of COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2, bringing the total of confirmed cases to 38.

The Syrian government’s Health Ministry issued a statement saying that they registered a new case of COVID-19, bringing the total of the registered cases to 38, including two deaths and five cases of recovery. The statement specified no other details. 

The Syrian government quarantined three fighters of the Iranain-backed Fatemiyoun Brigade after they showed symptoms of COVID-19 in the city of al-Bukamal, 120 kilometers east of Deir al-Zor, Eastern Syria. 

Local sources reported to SMART that the Syrian government transported the fighters to the Assad Hospital in the city of Deir al-Zor. After conducting medical tests to the fighters, the Syrian government relocated them to the al-Baghliyah quarantine center in the western Deir al-Zor countryside. The sources provided no further details.

The Syrian government forces prevented more than 60 Syrian refugees, including women and children from crossing from Lebanon to Syria. The Syrian government forces fired at the refugees to force them to return to Lebanon.

Local sources reported to SMART that the administration of the Jdeidat Yabous that links Syria to Lebanon prevented the refugees from entering Syria, as a precautionary procedure against COVID-19.

Activists circulated a video on social media showing one of the refugees trapped at the crossing says that the Syrian government forces members fired directly at the refugees when they asked them for water to drink. The refugee noted that the Syrian government forces members exploited the refugees financially under the pretext of allowing them to cross to Syria.   

On March 23, 2020, the Syrian government’s Ministry of Interior closed the Kassab border crossing with Turkey, and all crossings with Lebanon. The Syrian government prevented travellers from crossing,except for trucks, as a precautionary procedure against COVID-19. 

Autonomous Administration detains families due to COVID-19:

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) detained a family coming from the Syrian government controlled-city of Deir al-Zor to the SDF-controlled areas through the al-Shuhayl crossing.

A media source from the Kurdish Autonomous Administration reported to SMART that SDF fighters, in cooperation with the Asayish forces, detained a family of three members along with a smuggler. The source added that the family and the smuggler entered SDF-controlled areas through the al-Shuhayl crossing, eastern Deir al-Zor. The source said that the Autonomous Administration put the family in quarantine at the Kasra Hospital, northwestern Deir al-Zor. 

The Autonomous Administration applied precautionary procedures against COVID-19 in Northeastern Syria. Such procedures included closing crossings. 

MSF warns of disaster if COVID-19 spreads in Idlib:

On Sunday, Cristian Reynders, MSF project coordinator in Northwestern Syria, warned of a humanitarian disaster if COVID-19 spreads in Northwestern Syria.

Reynders called on the international community to undertake its responsibilities towards people who are forced to live in camps that lack medical care and precautionary procedures against COVID-19. Reynders added that the medical situation in the area is poor, especially as dozens of medical facilities were forced to shut down.  

Reynders noted that military operations launched by the Syrian government forces and Russia in Northwestern Syria prevented people from taking precautionary procedures to limit infection, amidst heavy population in a narrow geographical area.    

MSF said, "European governments must stop using the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to enforce deadly migration control policies and must immediately lift the obstacles preventing NGOs from saving lives at sea."

The Italian Aki Agency reported an MSF urgent call as saying, "The plea follows grotesque scenes that played out in the Mediterranean Sea over the Easter weekend. Citing COVID-19 as justification for not assisting, Malta and Italy failed to respond to multiple overloaded dinghies in distress in their search and rescue regions, and declined a place of safety for disembarkation to nearly 200 people rescued by two NGO ships."

Syrian Christians celebrate Easter at home due to COVID-19:

Deaths due to COVID-19 exceeded 160,000 worldwide, according to (Worldometers).

The total of deaths according to (Worldometers) that is specialized in counting COVID-19 cases has reached 162,054 so far. The total of cases of COVID-19 in 210 countries exceeded 2. 361 million. 607,342 infected people recovered.

The United States is first in terms of deaths with 39,084 ones, then 23,227 in Italy, 20,453 in Spain, 19,323 in France, and 16,060 in the United Kingdom. 

COVID-19 has killed 5,683 people in Belgium, 5,118 in Iran, and 4,632 in China, as journalists and activists accuse China of hiding real statistics of COVID-19. 

On Sunday, as with increasing cases of COVID-19 worldwide, Syrian Christians celebrated Easter at home, so they did not go to churches to protect themselves against COVID-19. 

The Syrian government media reported that celebration was limited to memorial prayers by clergymen. The civilians did not go to churches as a precautionary procedure against COVID-19. 

In their preaches, bishops called on Christians to stay home and recite prayers on churches’ websites. The bishops prayed to God to protect Syria from the epidemic.

On Sunday, the Lebanese Health Ministry registered a new case of COVID-19, bringing the total of infected people to 673. 

The ministry issued a statement saying that the total of infected people has reached 673 so far after registering a new case. The ministry noted that there were no new deaths over the last 24 hours.

On Dec. 31, 2019, the novel coronavirus COVID-19 spread in the Chinese city of Wuhan. COVID-19 is an infectious disease, caused by SARS-CoV-2, that spreads from person-to-person and by respiratory droplets. These droplets fall on surrounding surfaces, so other people could be infected when they touch these surfaces by touching their eyes, noses, or mouths. People could be infected if they inhale droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it is important to keep a one-meter distance (three feet) away from infected people.

Infection symptoms include body aches, blocked nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. The symptoms begin as mild and develop gradually. Some people become infected without showing any symptoms and without feeling ill. About 80% of infected people recover from the disease without any special treatment.