Lebanon News

Refugee conference in Tripoli under consideration

Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas poses for a picture at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)

BEIRUT: The foreign ministers of countries hosting Syrian refugees might hold a conference in Tripoli later this year, according to Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas.

“During the upcoming session, the Cabinet is expected to look into the possibility of holding the foreign ministers meeting of countries hosting Syrian refugees,” Derbas, who informed Cabinet of the possibility Thursday, told Al-Markazieh.

Although Derbas explained that the preparations for the conference hadn’t begun yet, he said that “during the previous conference held in [Jordan’s] Zaatari refugee camp, we decided to hold the upcoming meeting in Tripoli based on the request of attending ministers.”

Syria’s 3-year-old civil war has displaced millions of people, and Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan have been overwhelmed by the huge influx of refugees amid a dearth of necessary international aid. Lebanon is now estimated to be hosting more than 1.5 million refugees – a third of the country’s population. The foreign ministers meeting, which could take place in September, would look into the status of refugees in host countries and ways to address their needs.

Tripoli has been calm since April, when the government of Prime Minister Tammam Salam launched a security plan to end multiple rounds of violence between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The fighting in Tripoli between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime, dating back to the Lebanon’s 1975-90 Civil War, intensified with the start of Syria’s civil war in March 2011.

Derbas said that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was eager the conference takes place in Lebanon’s second city, “as Tripoli is an important center in this issue.”

Lebanon has been mulling the establishment of refugee camps either in Syrian territories or in no-man’s land in a bid to cope with crisis.

“This subject is being partially dealt within the Cabinet and is still being discussed,” Derbas explained. “We are ready to create refugees camps in the in no-man’s land between Lebanon and Syria after studying the circumstances.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 26, 2014, on page 2.




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