Education Minister Elias Bou Saab expressed the cabinet’s opposition to the establishment of camps for Syrian refugees, warning of the repercussions of such a development on Lebanon, reported al-Joumhouria newspaper on Friday.
He explained: “The cabinet supports resolving the case of refugees, but it is against setting up the camps.”
“Imagine if we had 500 Ain el-Hilweh camps in Lebanon,” he said in reference to the Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon, which has been the site of various security incidents over the years.
Furthermore, the minister cited the recent uproar over the army’s raid last week of a Syrian refugee encampment in the northeastern region of Arsal.
“The Syrian opposition had filed a complaint against the army, accusing it of discrimination and demanding that the United Nations investigate the incident. This uproar was created over a single encampment. What sort of reaction would we be faced with if we had 500 refugee camps?” wondered Bou Saab.
“Would the army be prevented from entering the camps and maintain security?” he asked.
Tensions have been high in Arsal in the wake of clashes in August between the army and Islamist militants from Syria.
The fighting ended with the gunmen abducting a number of soldiers and policemen from the area.
Tensions have also been high among the Syrian refugee population in light of the army’s raid last week where it arrested a number of suspects.
Syria’s opposition National Coalition submitted a complaint to the U.N. Security Council over the “Lebanese army’s violations of human rights of the refugees during the Arsal raid.”
It requested that it study the possibility of sending monitors to the encampments in Lebanon.