Prime Minister Tammam Salam chairs the ministerial committee meeting at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Monday, June 2, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)
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Despite criticism from Syrians and rights organizations, a ministerial committee meeting chaired by the prime minister threw its support Monday behind several policies aimed at curbing the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.An Interior Ministry source shed some light on the process by which it would be enforced, saying the mechanism to un-register Syrian refugees who cross the border into their home country would be honed with time and the support of the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR.Syria's Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi Monday strongly criticized Lebanon's decision, calling it "invalid under the law," in remarks made to the LBCI television channel. He added, however, that it was ""an internal Lebanese affair" and that Syria would not interfere with the new policy. At a UNHCR registration center in Jnah, weary Syrians queuing up to apply for refugee status expressed concern about their uncertain future and lamented the Lebanese government's resolve to curb the number of displaced Syrians in the country.Syrians said that upon registering, members of the UNHCR had told them that returning to Syria would jeopardize their refugee status. Others expressed concern about the cooperation, revealed last week, between the UNHCR and the Lebanese authorities, which are eager to obtain information on Syrian refugees.Since November, the UNHCR has required iris scans for Syrians over the age of 3 who want to register as refugees.
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