This COI Focus examines the security situation in Lebanon. It is an update of the COI Focus Libanon - De veiligheidssituatie of 7 August 2018. The research covers the period from August 2018 to April 2019 and was ended on 4 April 2019.
The first and the second part describe the background and current situation of the violence in Lebanon. The third part describes the actors who have a decisive impact on the security situation in Lebanon. The fourth and fifth part deal with the nature and intensity of the violence in various regions and the risk involved for civilians.
This COI Focus aims to give an overall view of the security situation but does not contain an exhaustive list of security incidents in Lebanon. The incidents that are mentioned mainly serve to illustrate general trends countrywide or in a specific region.
Political power in Lebanon is divided along religious quotas, leading to a strongly polarized political system liable to conflict and foreign interference. Lebanon has a weak government structure and a fragile sectarian balance. Weapons are widely available and in combination with the presence of armed militias, this represents a security risk for Lebanese civilians, according to the UN Security Council. The country is affected by the Syrian civil war, which continued to polarize the politic debate, created a massive refugee crisis and increased sectarian tensions. A growing polarization between the Sunni and Shia communities is observed. On the other hand, the recent Lebanese civil war is still very present in the Lebanese collective memory and whenever tensions arise, political and religious leaders tend to call for peace. According to analysts, the post-war power-sharing agreement and the interests of various sectarian elites act as safeguards against a new civil war. The two main Lebanese political groupings maintain a political dialogue.
Compared to neighbouring Syria, the violence in Lebanon has never been large-scale and was limited to a shadow war taking the form of attacks (mainly on army and Hezbollah targets), border violence between the warring parties and sectarian abductions. According to observers, the general security situation continued to improve significantly in 2016, 2017 and the first half of 2018. The extent of the violence significantly decreased due to the army and Hezbollah operations and to developments in Syria.
On 6 May 2018, parliamentary elections were held for the first time after having been repeatedly postponed since 2013 for security reasons. The parliamentary bloc linked to Hezbollah continued to strengthen its position. Hezbollah dominates the Lebanese political and military landscape and has a de facto right of veto over all government decisions. No Lebanese political grouping or foreign State (Iran, Israel) has any interest in an escalation of the violence and the risk of a civil war in Lebanon.
Various local Salafi movements were dismantled and a large number of extremists were arrested. Most civilian casualties fell in 2014 during sectarian violence in the southern outskirts of Beirut and in a number of densely populated districts in Tripoli. The last terrorist attack in Beirut involved a double suicide attack in the southern Shia district of Bourj al-Barajneh on 12 November 2015. Thanks to increased security measures and the deployment of the army, there have been no armed confrontations between Alawi and Sunni militias in Tripoli since April 2014.
In the summer of 2017, Lebanon reinstated government control over the north-eastern border region, thus addressing part of the security impact of the war in Syria. Hezbollah and the army now control the entire border region with Syria. With the departure of nearly 1,000 ISIS and HTS combatants, the daily armed confrontations between the army and ISIS and HTS in the north-eastern border region came to an end.
With the end of armed violence and the Assad regime now controlling a large part of western Syria, attacks from Syria (missile and mortar attacks by rebel groups and air raids by the Syrian army) have completely stopped. Since the summer of 2017, no Syrian border violence has been reported.
The situation in the other regions remains generally calm. During the reporting period, the situation in South Lebanon remained stable despite threatening rhetoric from both sides. On the whole, UN Resolution 1701 - which ended the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006 - is respected by both parties, maintaining a balance based on mutual dissuasion.
The violence reported during the reporting period mainly concerned criminal violence - including clan violence - and caused several casualties. The Baalbek-Hermel region is home to various influential armed clans forming de facto militias and engaging in criminal and political violence. Furthermore, several raids and arrests of alleged extremists involved shooting incidents. Lastly, there were reports of social unrest.
In the Palestinian camps, with the exception of Ayn al-Hilwah, the current security situation remains stable. In 2018, the tensions and violence between Fatah and Islamist groups decreased. Various members of extremist groups left the camp, some surrendered to the authorities, others were handed over or arrested. The Joint Security Force was deployed in the most sensitive districts. In 2018, a total of seven dead and seventeen wounded were reported during isolated security incidents between persons belonging to an armed faction in the camp. At least five dead and a relatively large number of injured were civilians, as these incidents took place in densely populated districts.
The policy implemented by the Commissioner General is based on a thorough analysis of accurate and up-to-date information on the general situation in the country of origin. This information is collated in a professional manner from various, objective sources, including the EASO, the UNHCR, relevant international human rights organisations, non-governmental organisations, professional literature and coverage in the media. When determining policy, the Commissioner General does not only examine the COI Focuses written by Cedoca and published on this website, as these deal with just one aspect of the general situation in the country of origin. The fact that a COI Focus could be out-of-date does not mean that the policy that is being implemented by the Commissioner General is no longer up-to-date.
When assessing an application for asylum, the Commissioner General not only considers the actual situation in the country of origin at the moment of decision-making, he also takes into account the individual situation and personal circumstances of the applicant for international protection. Every asylum application is examined individually. An applicant must comprehensively demonstrate that he has a well-founded fear of persecution or that there is a clear personal risk of serious harm. He cannot, therefore, simply refer back to the general conditions in his country, but must also present concrete, credible and personal facts.
There is no policy paper for this country available on the website.