BEIRUT: Lebanese authorities and the United Nations are discussing the possibility of setting up settlements for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said Saturday.
“We have been holding talks among ourselves as well as with the United Nations regarding the establishment of official refugee camps for Syrians,” the minister told The Daily Star.
Derbas said there are over 1,100 informal tented settlements already across the country, some of which lack basic sanitation.
“We are trying to come up with a solution to that,” he said.
Lebanese officials have suggested setting up the camps in safe areas inside Syria, while the U.N. would prefer keeping the camps away from the border for security reasons.
“This is one of the problems we are facing,” Derbas said. “And we still need to reach a Lebanese consensus about the issue.”
The minister said that the members of a ministerial committee for Syrian refugees in Lebanon is set to meet next week to hold talks over the case.
In comments published in An-Nahar daily Saturday, Amin Awad, U.N. refugee coordinator for Syria, said that the United Nations is discussing the possibility of establishing camps for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
The official said the camps would be established far from the border and front lines between Syrian militants “to avoid what happened in Arsal and ease the burden of the presence of many refugees in different places,” he said, referring to violence along the border.
He said that there must be an international strategy among donor countries to support the Lebanese state, adding that the Lebanese government would decide the locations of the camps.
Lebanon is hosting over a million Syrian refugees.
The country has previously appealed for funds to help the government deal with the refugee crisis. Derbas said that establishing camps might help Lebanon recieve more funds for the refugees.