Refugee Load on Lebanon Getting Unbearable – Finance Ministry


Lebanon Ministry of Finance Director General Alain Bifani said that the number of migrants arriving in Lebanon is becoming unbearable for the country and Beirut is hoping for global support in coping with the refugee influx.

The number of migrants arriving in Lebanon is becoming unbearable for the country and Beirut is hoping for global support in coping with the refugee influx, Lebanon Ministry of Finance Director General Alain Bifani told Sputnik.

“Lebanon has never closed its border. It’s a humanitarian issue… But at the same time it not the question of will, it is the question of capacity. We are really reaching the maximum that could be required from any country in the world,” Bifani said on Thursday on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in Lima, Peru.

According to Bifani, there are currently no restrictions imposed in Lebanon on the number of migrants permitted in the country.

“But at the same time the world has to acknowledge that the load on Lebanon is becoming unbearable,” Bifani said.

Bifani explained that Lebanon is accepting the number of refugees equalling to almost half of its population, stressing that the country is doing it not only for itself, but for the rest of the world.

“We are calling it a global public good… This global public good should be a global responsibility. The whole world should feel they have something to do with them,” he told Sputnik, adding that enough money and resources should be provided to Lebanon for it “to be able to cope with this enormous weight which is a public asset that is given to the world.”

Bifani also warned that if Lebanon does not get enough support, the world might see more and more people moving into other countries.

“This is something that people would have to keep in mind. We are doing it, and as long as we are doing it, the refugees will not go somewhere else. But if we collapse, if we are not able to take this amount of people any more, those people are going to try to find another way and to find other countries to take them. And I am not sure that there is a will in the world to take so many people,” Bifani told Sputnik.

Lebanon is one of the many countries that have been struggling with an inflow of refugees coming from Syria and other conflict-torn countries in the Middle East and Africa.

“Either we are going to get enough support to be able to continue until there is a solution to the crisis in Syria, and then we will see what happens to the issue of the displaced. Or we are going to see more and more people spreading wherever in the world, and that will be the responsibility of the countries that have not mobilized their resources accordingly,” Bifani warned.

An enormous influx of migrants has been registered in Europe over the past few months. According to the most recent estimates from the EU border agency Frontex, some 630,000 migrants have arrived in the bloc since the beginning of 2015.

Bifani said that during the three days of the IMF and World Bank meetings they are going to have talks on the issue of refugees.

“We are hoping that the initiative of the [World] bank will be developed into tangible instruments. And we will also have an opportunity to discuss with the IMF at the highest level,” he said.

Earlier on Thursday, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim told reporters that the group is looking into new ways to boost its assistance to the countries accepting refugees from Syria.

The Syrian civil war caused the highest refugee population in the world, with over 4 million asylum seekers having fled Syria to neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt, according to UN data.




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