Lebanese president Michel Aoun on Friday said Lebanon should not wait for a “political or security solution” in Syria to address the burdensome Syrian refugee crisis.
“We will not await a political or security solution in Syria and we rather have a duty to defend the interest of our country,” Aoun said at the beginning of a Cabinet session at the Baabda Palace.
“We must activate the ministerial panel tasked with addressing the refugee crisis and take more measures to control the border,” the president added.
And calling for a “unified vision” for addressing the refugee issue in order to “achieve Lebanon’s interest,” Aoun warned that “the refugee crisis is worsening” and noted that his latest meeting with the ambassadors of world powers was aimed at “rallying the international community and the U.N. to begin tackling the crisis.”
In his meeting with the ambassadors, the president warned that Lebanon “can no longer cope” with the presence of Syrian refugees and appealed to the international community for help to organize their return.
Aoun said the refugees’ return to safe areas in Syria will put an end to their suffering and save Lebanon from negative repercussions.
He specified rising unemployment among the Lebanese. At least one million registered Syrian refugees live in Lebanon, almost 25 percent of its population. Many more are believed to live unregistered, straining the country’s already fraying infrastructure.
Aoun said Lebanon does not want to force any returns, but appealed to international organizations not to “frighten” those who want to go home.