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Lebanese ministries attack Syrian refugees; Drum for Assad

The Lebanese caretaker foreign minister launched an attack on the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, warning that the Syrian refugees threaten the existence of Lebanon.

Abdullah Bou Habib said in an interview before the Italian Association of International Organizations in Rome that until today "there is no road map for their return to their country."

He explained that "the Syrians in Lebanon are not political refugees," calling for a solution to their issue, and added, "In Lebanon, two million Syrians threaten its existence, as there has always been a balance between Christians and Muslims," noting that "Jordan also hosts Syrian refugees, but it can manage them better".

He pointed out that "the Syrians have been living in Lebanon for 20 years, waiting for a solution, and the Palestinians for more than 70 years. However, the Palestinians cannot return, while the Syrians are not political refugees, but they are economic refugees."

The minister revealed that he spoke to Bashar al-Assad and Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad "for reassurance," noting that Syria has 40 laws to ensure that refugees (including opponents and dissidents) are not punished in any way.

In a related context, the Minister of Displaced Affairs in the Lebanese caretaker government, Issam Sharafeddine, said that the return of Syrian refugees to their country is "a necessary and urgent matter," adding that it needs a Lebanese decision in coordination with Damascus and the international community.

In a media interview, Sharafeddine considered the file of the return of the refugees existential, and rejected any hate speech, considering this file "human by all standards."

Sharafeddine added that the internal burdens, economic and living problems in Lebanon, and the restoration of relations between the Arab countries and Syria, led to raising the voice to reach the necessity of resolving the refugee issue and securing their return.

He also expressed his hope for the cooperation of all parties to end the refugee file with a safe and dignified return for them, and he believed that the lack of international aid greatly affects Lebanon and the Lebanese in light of the burden of refugees on the economy.

Sharafeddine indicated that "what is required of the working Syrian or the owner of an institution is to complete all his papers perfectly, and the displaced registered with the UNHCR are not supposed to work, and if there is a good intention, it is possible to help Syrians inside their lands," and announced the presence of "1,200 names in the list of what he called the "voluntary and safe return" of the displaced, adding: With the data we have and international agreements, it is possible to start the deportation process in coordination with Syria.

He revealed, according to the words of the Syrian Minister of Interior, Mohammad Khaled al-Rahmon, that there are facilities in the issue of birth registration for Syrians.

This campaign comes from the tense Lebanese ministerial positions against Syrian refugees in Lebanon, a few weeks before the Brussels conference, which is supposed to discuss the file of refugee support.

This also comes at a time when the issue of the return of refugees is still igniting a major dispute between official Lebanon, which calls for their return, and international organizations, led by the UNHCR, which rejects this return, as it considers that the security conditions are still not appropriate for this return.

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