Le­banon for­eign min­is­ter es­ca­lates refugee row with U.N. agency

Daily Messenger - - International -

BEIRUT: Le­banon’s care­taker for­eign min­is­ter es­ca­lated his row with the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR on Wed­nes­day, ac­cus­ing it at a news con­fer­ence of work­ing to stop refugees from re­turn­ing to Syria.

UNHCR has de­nied sim­i­lar ac­cu­sa­tions, say­ing it sup­ports the re­turn of refugees when it is safe for them to go back to Syria and helps those who choose to re­turn with their doc­u­men­ta­tion. It had no im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion to the lat­est ac­cusa- tion. “Their pol­icy is to for­bid the re­turn,” For­eign Min­is­ter Ge­bran Bas­sil said. “The Le­banese pol­icy is to en­cour­age the re­turn. For­bid, en­cour­age. Stop, fa­cil­i­tate. That’s it,” Bas­sil said dur­ing the news con­fer­ence in the town of Ar­sal, where he spoke along­side Syr­ian refugees. The U.N. has reg­is­tered about a mil­lion refugees in Le­banon - nearly a quar­ter of Le­banon’s pop­u­la­tion. The Le­banese gov­ern­ment, which puts the fig­ure at 1.5 mil­lion, says it wants them to start go­ing back to ter­ri­tory where fight­ing is over. Bas­sil said on Wed­nes­day the bur­den of host­ing Syr­ian refugees seven years into the con­flict that drove them to flee had grown “un­bear­able”, blam­ing the cri­sis for the col­lapse of the econ­omy and em­i­gra­tion of Le­banese cit­i­zens.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.