BEIRUT: Lebanon needs donations, not loans, to cope with the Syrian refugee crisis in the country, caretaker Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi said over the weekend.
“We cannot be asked to take loans to secure the needs of refugees. We will never accept to make such a move,” Safadi said during a conference in Washington discussing the repercussions of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon.
“ Lebanon has always been committed to international conventions and it has the right to ask the international community to support it and offer the country donations so that the state will be able to secure the needs of the Lebanese first and the refugees second,” he added.
During the conference, Safadi submitted a four-point economic roadmap for Lebanon to ease the repercussions of the Syrian conflict on the country.
He said the plan was prepared by Lebanon in cooperation with the World Bank.
Safadi said that plan consists of financing pending projects in the county as soon as possible, preparing projects for medium-sized enterprises and funding them from a multiple donors fund for refugees, establishing sustainable development projects that would work for infrastructure reforms and private sector investment, as well as promoting private sector participation in the Lebanese market, including services such as energy, electricity, water and transport.
The conference was attended by representatives of the United States, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Germany, Italy, China, Holland and Sweden.
Lebanon has been facing major challenges in dealing with the rising number of Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their country.
There are more than 789,000 Syrian refugees presently in the country according to U.N. figures, but Lebanese officials put the number closer to 1.3 million. Many Syrian refugees present in Lebanon have not registered with the U.N.
An international meeting last month at the U.N. General Assembly in New York saw an additional $339 million pledged in humanitarian aid aimed at responding to the Syrian crisis. It included $74 million for Lebanon to support refugees.