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Lebanon News

Lebanon drafts plan to regulate presence of refugees

Minister Elias Bou Saab attends a Cabinet session at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Friday, May 16, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Lebanon's Cabinet is drafting a plan to address the presence of Syrians refugees in Lebanon during a government session Friday which will most likely limit the overwhelming influx.

The plan is also expected to establish refugee camps on the border with Syria in order to regulate some 1,100 illegal tents scattered across the country.

According to the U.N. refugee agency, there are over 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon either registered or awaiting registration. Officials say the number is much higher with the presence of Palestinian refugees who have also escaped the crisis in Syria.

Earlier in the day, The Cabinet convened with 61 items on the agenda, including proposals to address the rising number of Syrian refugees.

Ministers arrived at the Grand Serail around 4:30 p.m. to attend the session, which was chaired by Prime Minister Tammam Salam.

Health Minister Wael Abu Faour said the Cabinet would discuss appointing new members to the Beirut Public Hospital's board of directors.

Other ministers said the Cabinet would also discuss waste management and the registration of mobile devices' IMEI codes.

Every mobile device has a unique International Mobile Station Equipment Identity code, which is commonly used by cell networks to identify valid devices and can be used to block stolen phones.

Telecommunications Minister Butros Harb canceled the registration but the move was opposed by the importers, who argue that the action would increase smuggling of mobile phones and facilitate terrorism.

At the beginning of the session, Salam expressed hope that Parliament would elect a new president before President Michel Sleiman’s term ends on May 25.

Parliament has been unable to choose a new head of state due to lack of agreement among rival groups on a single candidate.

 

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