BEIRUT: Establishing refugee camps is the only solution to the refugees crisis in Lebanon, Health Minister Wael Abu Faour said Monday, reiterating his warning of the repercussions of the influx of refugees.
“There is no solution to the continuous influx of refugees other than establishing refugee camps,” Abu Faour said during a conference about the economic repercussions of the Syrian refugee crisis.
“We even decided on locations for such camps, but unfortunately such a solution was previously opposed by a number of political forces who argue that [establishing camps] could destabilize the country’s security.”
Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said over the weekend that the Lebanese Cabinet and the United Nations have been mulling the possibility of establishing camps for refugees.
Abu Faour said that the Syrian refugee influx is “the biggest challenge to confront the Lebanese state since the outbreak of the Syria crisis.”
“The Syrian refugee crisis is three years old; we have been warning of its repercussions for a long time but the relevant authorities did not respond to our warnings,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi said the camps should be established in safe areas inside Syria, not Lebanon.
“The Lebanese government will not accept establishing camps inside its territories but in Syrian areas along the Syrian-Lebanese border,” Azzi said after holding talks with UNHCR's representative in Lebanon Ninette Kelly.
Azzi added that security could be ensured in the areas in these areas through a “political agreement between the Syrian regime and the opposition under Arab and international monitoring, similar to the ceasefire agreement in Homs.”
Separately, a graphic released by the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees visualized the growing number of Syrian refugees since the beginning of the Syrian crisis some three years ago.
The graphic tracks the yearly growth of the number of refugees, placing red dots on the map to indicate population centers.
Syrian refugees, who now exceed a million, are mostly concentrated in border areas, in both north and east Lebanon, the graphic shows.
The number of refugees has increased from 25,411 refugees in June 2012 to 1,044,989 refugees in April 2014.