Lebanon will not accept permanent settlement of refugees: President
The Syrian government has made repeated calls for the repatriation of its citizens residing in Lebanon and elsewhere
By News Desk - August 18 2022

(Photo credit: Qatar News Agency)

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said on 17 August, during a meeting with the Canadian International Development Minister Harjit Sagan, that the goal of certain countries to permanently settle Syrian refugees and integrate them into Lebanese society is a “crime” that the country will not accept.

“We are suspicious of the positions taken by some countries and international organizations … if the goal is to settle Syrians in Lebanon, we reject that just as we rejected the resettlement of Palestinians,” Aoun said.

“We hope that friendly countries will support us, especially since the current situation in Syria helps to achieve the return of displaced Syrians to their country,” the Lebanese president added.

During the meeting, Aoun rejected claims made by some countries and international organizations that refugees returning to Syria face violence and persecution, explaining that hundreds of thousands of Syrians have returned to their country under continued calls from their government.

Aoun also noted that Lebanon is no longer capable of bearing the overwhelming presence of refugees, which he said has contributed greatly to the country’s economic instability.

He added that the Lebanese state has made repeated requests to the international community, which have gone unanswered, to send aid meant for refugees to Syria instead of Lebanon in order to encourage them to return to their homeland.

In recent years, Damascus has made numerous calls urging Syrian refugees in Lebanon and elsewhere to return to Syria.

Just a few days ago, Syria’s Minister of Local Administration and Environment Hussein Makhlouf said that the “doors are open for the return of the refugees” from Lebanon, adding that “the state is ready to provide them with everything they need, from transportation, to healthcare and education.”

Lebanon is currently suffering the worst economic crisis in its history, due to years of corruption and financial mismanagement by the country’s elites. The refugee crisis, however, has also played a role in contributing to the crisis.

In April, Lebanese Labor Minister Mustafa Bayram said that the country is no longer capable of hosting Syrian refugees without foreign assistance.

Other Lebanese officials, including Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib, have accused the west, namely the US, of intentionally sabotaging Lebanon’s attempts at repatriating Syrian refugees due to political reasons “related to their position on the Syrian government.”

Approximately 1.5 million refugees from Syria, who have faced increased xenophobia recently, are currently residing in the crisis-hit nation, making up nearly one quarter of the country’s total population.

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