BEIRUT: A delegation from the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc discussed Monday with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati their proposal to curb the influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon.
“We have begun a tour of officials and those concerned with this matter, starting with the president and the [caretaker] prime minister Mikati whom with we discussed our proposal,” caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil told reporters after his meeting at the Grand Serail.
“We consider [the Syrian refugee situation] to be a national, existential crisis that cannot be neglected anymore,” he added.
At a news conference last week the bloc, which is headed by MP Michel Aoun, announced a draft law to curb the flow of Syrian refugees into Lebanon by closing the border except in urgent humanitarian cases and ensuring the safe return of Syrians to their home country.
Bassil said Monday that it was important to adopt “an action plan and certain measures that could lead to the decrease of the number of refugees and not the opposite.”
“We hope that practical measures will be taken by the president and the government as a result of our proposal,” he said.
The minister also fended off allegations that his party’s proposal was racist, saying they were presenting ideas to safeguard the country.
“Whoever calls our work racist should be at some point tried for falsely accusing people [of such a thing],” he said.
“We are facing a choice: to be nationalists and humane and our focus should be to the Lebanese,” Bassil said.
“No other person from a different nationality should have priority over the Lebanese,” he added.
The bloc’s proposal also includes a unified policy across municipalities and local agencies to keep a close eye on the movements of refugees in their areas and the removal of illegal constructions.