BEIRUT: The country is taking new steps to take care of Syrian refuges and President Michel Sleiman will take the issue of the growing number of refugees in Lebanon to the United Nations, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said in remarks published Thursday.
Charbel said the decision was made during a ministerial meeting Wednesday at the Presidential Palace in Baabda.
A source at Baabda Palace told The Daily Star Sleiman would address the Syrian refugee crisis among other issues during the U.N. General Assembly meeting in September.
He said Sleiman is scheduled to travel to New York on Sept. 19.
Charbel also confirmed the address and said the government is taking action to improve how refugees are handled as they come into the country.
“The Baabda meeting discussed the refugee issue which had begun to intensify prior to the much-talked about military strike [on Syria]; and in one day alone 13,000 Syrian refugees entered Lebanon according to General Security,” Charbel told Al-Mustaqbal newspaper.
A senior source at General Security said that 13,000 Syrian refugees had crossed into Lebanon via the Masnaa border crossing Wednesday and 6,200 refugees returned home through the same crossing.
Charbel said an agreement was reached during the Baabda meeting to set up a "refugee reception center at the Lebanese border in cooperation with international organizations to guide these refugees to locations yet to be determined.”
On Thursday, Charbel discussed the refugee crisis with U.S. Embassy charge d'affaires Richard Mills.
Caretaker Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour also discussed the establishment of the refugee reception center with officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
“Work is under way to set up a reception center for Syrian refugees," Abu Faour told The Voice of Lebanon radio station.
There are over 700,000 refugees receiving aid from UNHCR in Lebanon and there are many more unregistered and uncounted refugees in the country. Sleiman has said at least one million Syrian refugees are residing in Lebanon, with thousands more crossing over each week.