Lebanon must send back Syrian refugees despite lack of donors’ support: Minister

Lebanon must send back Syrian refugees inside the country despite the reported lack of support from donor countries in facilitating the plan, the country’s Minister of the Displaced said.

Hosting a significant number of refugees has so far cost nearly $33 billion, “which constitutes a huge burden on the Lebanese economy,” Issam Charafeddine told Radio Liban Libre on Friday.

“The direct cost incurred by Lebanon covers wheat, electricity, water, educational policy, infrastructure and environmental pollution,” Charafeddine added.

However, “the UN Refugee Agency informed us that the donor countries refused to give financial support for refugees in their homeland to encourage their return,” he said.

“They also did not approve the formation of a tripartite committee of Syria, Lebanon and the UN Refugee Agency to facilitate the process,” the Minister added.

On July 4, Charafeddine announced that the Lebanese government would try to ensure the monthly return of 15,000 displaced Syrians from Lebanon to their homeland, Xinhua news agency reported.

However, Ayaki Ito, representative of the UN Refugee Agency in Lebanon, refused to endorse the Lebanese plan, citing the insecurity in Syria for the returning refugees.

Lebanon hosts the world’s largest number of refugees per capita, with a government estimate of the Syrian refugees in the country at 1.5 million.

Having been struggling with a worsening financial crisis since late 2019, Lebanon has repeatedly said the influx of refugees weighs heavily on the country’s economy and infrastructure.

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