By Kieran Guilbert
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Curfews imposed on Syrian refugees in villages across Lebanon are fuelling a climate of discrimination and hostility against new arrivals, a human rights group said in a statement on Friday.
More than 45 municipalities in Lebanon have imposed the curfews, many of them introduced in response to an August attack on the border town of Arsal by Islamist militants, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
Nadim Houry, HRW deputy Middle East director, said the curfews violated international human rights law and appeared to be illegal under Lebanese law.
"Municipalities should cease imposing these curfews, which they have no authority to require, and end practices that feed into a climate of discrimination against and stereotyping of Syrians in Lebanon," Houry added.
Armed vigilante groups had been formed in many towns to help police enforce the curfews from sunset until sunrise, HRW said.
HRW cited several incidents of abuse and discrimination, including refugees being prevented from buying medicine and food, and assaults, including stabbings, of refugees discovered in the streets after curfew.
Lebanon is hosting more than 1.1 million refugees, despite an overstretched infrastructure that fails to meet the needs of its four million citizens.
Despite the influx of people, the country has kept its borders open since the start of the war in neighboring Syria in March 2011.
But competition for limited resources and the attack on Arsal have contributed to rising tensions, which were exacerbated by the killing of three Lebanese hostages held by jihadists in August.
(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert; Editing by Ros Russell)