Minister warns refugee influx endangers Lebanon stability
February 14, 2013
BEIRUT: Lebanon could face serious repercussions if the Syrian refugee influx continues, Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour warned Thursday.
“Lebanon doesn’t just need financial help, I am afraid if the refugee influx remains as is, the country’s economic and social situation will be facing a time bomb,” said the minister following a meeting with a delegation of lawmakers from the European Parliament.
Lebanon has struggled to provide for the increasingly high number of refugees fleeing Syria’s violence, now over 265,000 according to the latest figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
A recent UNHCR report says the body is registering around 14,000 newcomers to Lebanon every week.
Abu Faour said that neither the Lebanese population nor the government can handle the increasing number of refugees any longer, especially as the issue results in a lot of demographic, economic, social and even security concerns the country.
“The issue is no longer about the Syrian and Palestinian refugees, but it is now concerned with Lebanon’s stability, especially as the pressures of the refugee crisis has exceeded the Lebanese Cabinet and even society’s ability to handle the crisis,” said the minister.
Late last year Lebanon’s Cabinet issued a comprehensive plan to address the needs of the Syrian refugees appealed for the help of the international and Arab community.
In an emergency conference to raise aid donations for the Syrian crisis held in Kuwait last month, President Michel Sleiman said that the government has approved a $370 million comprehensive plan for the refugees.
He said that $180 will be allocated to Lebanese state institutions while $190 will be distributed over international agencies.
The international donors pledged a total of more than $1.5 billion in aid for affected Syrians.