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Lebanon News

Lebanon pressuring international community on refugee camps

File - Refugees who fled the violence from the Syrian town of Flita, near Yabroud, stand outside their tents at the border town of Arsal, in the eastern Bekaa Valley March 20, 2014. (REUTERS/Hassan Abdallah)

BEIRUT: Lebanon is pressuring the international community to establish Syrian refugee camps either in safe zones inside Syria or on the border with its neighbor, Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said in remarks published Sunday.

"There is an agreement in Lebanon to pressure the international community to establish camps in safe zones in Syria or on the border,” Derbas told pan-Arab Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, reiterating that establishing refugee camps required a political decision.

Derbas has said that the United Nations preferred to keep the camps away from the border for security reasons.

He also said that the government would begin implementing new measures in the next few days to limit “as much as possible” the burden of the refugee influx into Lebanon, without specifying the measures.

He said there were three dimensions of the refugee crisis in Lebanon: humanitarian, security and economic.

“The government will continue to organize the first two but will take measure to stop the economic burden after the Syrian labor's competition negatively affected residents and their livelihood,” he said.

He also spoke about 1,100 illegal tents scattered in the country, mainly concentrated in the north and the Bekaa Valley, saying he had issued a decision preventing the erection of random tents without permission.

According to UNHCR, there are slightly over 1 million registered refugees from Syria in Lebanon, however, Lebanese official estimate the actual figure to be significanty higher. The Lebanese government has resisted establishing formal refugee camps, with some fearing a repetition of the country's experience with Palestinian refugee camps, which largely operate outside of the control of the Lebanese authorities.

 

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