The wave of unexplained disappearances of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has mounted in recent months.
Samer, a 24-year-old Syrian refugee suffering from cerebral palsy has been reported missing three days ago in Tripoli as his family searches across the Lebanese northern city to find him.
Local authorities seem to have no information about the young man’s whereabouts and whether he was abducted or left to face the unmerciful crowded streets of Tripoli.
A week ago, Oum Muhamad has reluctantly left the village of Tall Kalakh in Syria and fled to Lebanon to check on her 24-year-old son, Samer Haloun, in Tripoli. She discovered that her son had left the house to which they resorted to stay in after crossing the border. Samer never came back.
More importantly, Samer is lost in the streets of Tripoli and his mental health does not allow him to ask for help and return home. He does not even have the capability of explaining his situation to people.
More worrying for his family, Samer has left the house without his identity documents which makes it hard for others to identify him.
Oum Muhammad is mainly concerned about Samer getting arrested since he is wandering the streets without any identification. She is scouring the streets of the northern capital looking for any trace of Samer, carrying a picture of him and asking passers-by whether they’ve seen her son.
Back in Tall Kalakh, Samer was accustomed to leaving his house the moment he hears the call to prayer and used to head to the town’s mosque. It was the same call to prayer that made Samer leave his house in Tripoli in the absence of his mother.
“We went to police stations to report the disappearance but in vain,” Widah Haloun, Samer’s brother told Al Arabiya, insisting that he is asking the public to help Samer return home; finding out whether he has been spotted and if so, where.
Widah suffers from Quadriplegia, a paralysis caused by illness or injury, and is desperately trying to comfort his mother.
Samer’s family is sparing no effort to find their lost son but like any other refugee family; they do not know to whom to resort to in Lebanon, their asylum.
Violence in Syria has spilled over into Lebanon, denting the country’s already fragile security situation, with cross-border shootings, shelling by the Syrian army, tit-for-tat kidnappings and sectarian clashes.
Lebanon has taken in around 38,000 refugees from the conflict across the border in Syria, which erupted in March last year.
Since the beginning of the Syrian anti-government protests in March 2011, Syrian authorities have subjected tens of thousands of people to arbitrary arrests, unlawful detentions, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment and torture using an extensive network of detention facilities and torture centers, scattered throughout Syria.
According to a report issued earlier this year by the Human Rights Watch (HRW), “the exact numbers are impossible to verify but information that HRW collected suggests that security forces detained more than 20,000 people between March and September 2011.
Many detainees were young men in their 20s or 30s; but children, women, and elderly people were also among them.
Meanwhile, Syrian human rights organization, Insan, said in April 2011 that at least 221 Syrians have gone missing after three days of violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests, none of whom the authorities had acknowledged holding in detention.