BEIRUT: Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas Thursday said he informed the U.N. of Lebanon’s decision to restrict the entry of Syrian refugees to those escaping clashes.
“I informed the United Nations of the decisions made at a ministerial committee that we will only welcome refugees coming from regions where battles are raging near the Lebanese border,” Derbas told The Daily Star.
“This is our right, and the U.N. understood our position and sympathized with it.”
Earlier this month, the committee chaired by Prime Minister Tammam Salam made several decisions to address the overwhelming influx of refugees into Lebanon, including restricting entry, dropping refugee status from those who return to Syria and lobbying for the establishment of refugee camps either in Syria or in no man’s land along the porous border.
Derbas said that 64 percent of refugees who were coming into Lebanon were from Aleppo, Idlib, Deir al-Zor and Qamishli.
“We will of course allow a humanitarian and a necessary entry ... but we cannot have the entire Syrian population in Lebanon,” he said.
Asked whether such measures have already decreased the number of refugees coming in, the minister said the decisions were fairly recent.
Lebanon currently hosts over 1.5 million Syrian refugees who have fled the crisis in the neighboring country, along with around 40 thousand Palestinian refugees who have also fled clashes.
The refugee crisis in Lebanon, which already hosts some 500,000 Palestinian refugees, has taken toll on the economy and host communities, as well as the security of the country.