BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said Sunday that he is against the establishment of formal camps for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and that Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria saved Lebanon from terrorism.
“Lebanon would not accept, under any circumstances, the establishment of formal camps [for Syrian refugees], not under the United Nations banner or any other banner,” the minister said Saturday during a dinner for the Free Patriotic Movement in Batroun.
“We will never allow this to happen,” he said.
Bassil said pro-Assad regime Syrians should go back to their country, while those who cannot go back to Syria because they oppose the regime or do not have a home should stay in temporary settlements at the border, with the United Nations providing them with aid.
Lebanon has been mulling with the United Nations the possibility of establishing formal settlements for Syrian refugees in the country. While the UN suggests such establishments should be set inside Lebanese territories, Lebanon argues that the settlements should be located at the border area inside Syria or in safe Syrian territories.
There are over a million Syrian refugees in Lebanon registered with the United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees, while the actual number of Syrians in the country is estimated at much more.
Bassil also said that the involvement of Hezbollah in battles in Syria was partly “beneficent” because it protected the country from terrorism.
“The Lebanese intervention in Syria took different forms, financial, political and military. It is evident that everyone interfered in Syria,” he said.
“Hezbollah’s involvement was public and took a different aspect, it was a direct involvement that settled the results of the real battles on the ground,” he added.
“Hezbollah had a major influence on battles inside Syria but was this of benefit to Lebanon? There are many sides to suggest not, but it was useful in part because of the absence of any Lebanese stance to control the terrorism that infiltrated into Lebanon,” he said.
“That is why it is important to have an Army capable of achieving such a mission instead of having a Lebanese party do it for them,” Bassil added.