BEIRUT: Caretaker Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour criticized Tuesday the international community for what he said were baseless pretexts blocking direct funding to the government to address the Syrian crisis.
“Continuing to block international support to the Lebanese government and the local Lebanese community under the pretext of past discouraging experiences is not in place,” Abu Faour said during a news conference in Geneva.
“Several donors have had encouraging experiences with donations given to the Lebanese government that were transparently and usefully spent,” he added.
Another excuse Abu Faour said was preventing the international community from aiding Lebanon directly was the presence of some elements in the government opposed by some international players, referring to Hezbollah.
“The second pretext included the presence of certain components in the Lebanese government that angers some international parties, but these components are part of Lebanon's social and political fabric and will be part of any future government given the reality we live in,” he added.
He also noted the decision by the international community to evade directly funding Lebanon would result in it losing two of its main allies in the Syrian refugee crisis: the Lebanese government and the host communities.
“The international community's response to Lebanon's needs until now barely allows the government to survive, as it faces such enormous challenges,” he said.
Since the beginning of the crisis in March of 2011, Abu Faour said additional schools and hospitals were not built to cope with the rising demands of the refugees.
“This should stop,” he said, urging the international community to act quickly and increase aid to Lebanon particularly to host communities.
He also asked other countries to open up their borders to Syrian refugees and share the burden of hosting them with Lebanon.
Officials in Lebanon have said that the number of refugees in Lebanon, registered and unregistered, has reached 1.3 million. Abu Faour said 65 percent of the refugees live in the country’s poorest areas and are distributed among 1,650 villages.
He also repeated statistics made available by the World Bank which indicated that the refugee crisis will cost the Lebanese economy some $7.5 billion not to mention a rise in poverty and unemployment.
During his trip to Geneva, Abu Faour urged the international community to support Lebanon which held its first meeting last week in New York in the presence of the Security Council's five permanent members.
The International Support Group for Lebanon seeks to address the refugee crisis by supporting the country's economy, the Lebanese Army and the government in order for the country to better cope with the rising number of Syrians.