Major General Abbas Ibrahim with Chief of (KUNA) Beirut Bureau Farah Al-Faraj
Lebanon's security chief: Current number of Syrian refugees at 1.3 million
By Farah Al-Faraj
BEIRUT-- Number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon is currently at approximately 1.3 million and those who have returned home at 50,000, says General Director of the Lebanese General Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim.
In an exclusive interview with Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), Maj. Gen. Ibrahim says the General Security attaches special attention to the Syrian refugees' issue because it is responsible for their movements as well as for monitoring those who depart the country, in addition to issues concerning foreign residents.
The General Security, since flare-up of the Syrian crisis, has acted intensively with Syrian security apparatuses, in line with a decision by President Michel Aoun, assigning the department to be the liaison body with the Syrian side regarding this issue.
On Russia's initiative to resolve the Syrian refugee problem, he says that his department is a "prime partner in this initiative, directly coordinating with the refugee file stakeholders.
"Nevertheless, it is still premature to talk about duration for implementing the initiative because the work plan with the Russian side has not been completed yet." Asked on prospected international funding of the Russian initiative, Maj. Gen. Ibrahim indicates that, regardless of the Russian moves at this level, Lebanon is helping the Syrian refugees wishing to return voluntarily. "We have established 17 centers in various regions to receive applications from those willing to go back," he has said, vowing to pursue the process amid noticeable rising numbers of those desiring to return to Syria.
On reports about mediation by his department to liaise with European and international security agencies with the Syrian side, he says, "It is true that we have opened channels of communication with a number of European states, upon their request, with the Syrian authorities but I cannot say more" in this respect.
On the Kuwaiti-Lebanese relations, the security chief affirms that Kuwait has always been among states that support security and stability in Lebanon, offering aid to help it overcome diverse crises.
He paid tribute to the Kuwaiti leadership, namely His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, for adopting a sagacious policy, also underscoring the Kuwaiti people's amicable sentiments toward Lebanon.
Turning to the domestic conditions,, he affirms that the security situation is better than its status over the past year. "Nevertheless, the action against terrorism has never stopped, chasing (fugitives) or dismantling networks because (possible) terrorist action cannot be ruled out." The national security apparatus has played a crucial role locally and in the region, monitoring, tracking down radical networks, aborting suicide and bombing operations, intended to target peoples' gatherings, military, religious and tourist sites in various areas, he concludes.