Bouhabib calls for a solution to refugee crisis, says their numbers threaten Lebanon
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - Middle East Times Int’l: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates in the caretaker Lebanese government, Dr. Abdullah Bouhabib announced that “Syrians in Lebanon do not qualify as political refugees as most of them are in Lebanon for economic reasons.”
In a meeting of the Italian Association of International Organisations in Rome, he affirmed that “Lebanon has two million Syrians, and this number threatens the structure of the Lebanese entity, as there has always been a balance between Christians and Muslims, where they feel that they are equal and not superior to one over the other”.
He noted that “Jordan also hosts Syrian refugees but their situation is better managed there”.
Bouhabib called for “resolving the refugee issue” and pointed out that “until now, there is no clear road map for their future fate, as they have been living in Lebanon for 12 years, awaiting a solution”.
“This is what Palestinians in Lebanon have been waiting for, for more than 75 years now, yet they cannot return. The Syrian refugee is now considered an economic refugee and the internal situation in Lebanon does not tolerate that at all. The money that is paid to support them in Lebanon must be paid to them in Syria according to the same conditions.”
Bouhabib said: “I spoke with President Bashar al-Assad and Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad to reassure them of their safe return. I reported that Syria has 40 laws to ensure that refugees -- including opponents and dissidents -- are not punished in any way.”
Jordan has exceeded its refugee capacity amid “difficult” economic challenges, FM tells UN officials
Jordan affirmed that it has exceeded its capacity to accommodate refugees at a time when it is facing “difficult” economic challenges, stressing the need for the international community to shoulder its “full responsibilities” towards them and provide the support that the Kingdom does for the requirements of a decent life.
A Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said the comment by Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi was made during meetings with United Nations Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator Martin Griffiths, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and the UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen.
The statement indicated that the talks dealt with efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis and focused on mechanisms of co-operation between the Jordan and international organizations in coping with the “burden of Syrian refugees.”
Safadi stressed the necessity of the international community assuming its “full responsibilities” towards the refugees and providing the support that Jordan provides them; he noted that only 10 percent of them live in “refugee camps.”
The Jordanian minister also referred to the importance of co-operation between the Arab Committee for Liaison with Syria, which was set up by the Arab League, and the United Nations and its organisations “in efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis and end what it caused of destruction and suffering to the Syrian people and regional and international challenges”.
The statement said that the conferees agreed to continue co-ordination to create the necessary conditions for the voluntary return of refugees, to help those who choose to return, and to provide adequate support for them and for the host countries.
Jordanian official data indicates that about 1.3 million Syrian refugees live in the kingdom, about half of them registered with the United Nations.