BEIRUT: Caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil warned Friday the Syrian refugee crisis threatens the existence of Lebanon and said the country must stop receiving refugees.
“The Syrian refugee crisis is the biggest crisis threatening the Lebanese entity,” Bassil told a news conference to address the surge in the number of Syrian refugees crossing into the country.
“We should stop receiving refugees with the exception of those who need health care,” Bassil said.
The United Nations is aiding over 750,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and there are hundreds of thousands more people who are uncounted.
Lebanese officials say the country needs more international aid to cope with the huge numbers of refugees.
Bassil criticized efforts by caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government to provide better services to Syrian refugees.
“Services being provided by the state for the Syrian refugees encourage further displacement,” he said.
Bassil suggested the refugees would never leave after being helped.
"Requesting funds to improve their conditions will lead to a merger policy in Lebanon,” he said.
"We have become two peoples in one state and not one people in two states.”
Bassil widely condemned the Syrians as a threat to the safety, economy and identity of the country.
“Eighty-seven percent of the arrests are Syrians,” he said.
Bassil also claimed that between 220,000 and 230,000 Lebanese face unemployment as a result of the Syrian refugee crisis.
He said the refugee crisis also increased electricity usage as well.