(Photo credit: Brookings Institution)
Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said on 23 November that Western countries are trying to obstruct the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland.
In a lecture he gave at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Bou Habib said: “We are facing some difficulties from the West because they say that they do not want these refugees to return to Syria for reasons related to their position on the Syrian government.”
Furthermore, he explained that Lebanon does not interfere in Syria’s internal affairs, and it cooperates with Russia in resettling Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
According to Bou Habib, Lebanon is suffering from economic and social pressures caused by the persistence of refugees on its territory and is seeking to resolve this issue.
During a joint presser with his Lebanese counterpart on 22 November, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that some countries continue to obstruct the return of displaced Syrians to their country despite the Syrian government creating the appropriate conditions for this return.
“Unfortunately, a year ago, when there was a call for holding the first international conference on the return of refugees in Damascus, the United States and the European Union tried to undermine it, and this matter is totally unacceptable.” Lavrov said.
Russia’s top diplomat later went on to add: “The international community is concerned with the return of the Syrian refugees to their country, but it does not provide sufficient resources for this, and it must focus its efforts on facilitating their return to their homes.”
According to a March 2021 report by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are 6.6 million Syrian refugees worldwide, 5.6 million of which are hosted in countries near Syria. On top of this, since the start of the western-backed war in the country ten years ago 6.7 million people have been displaced inside the country.