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Lebanon seeking refugees’ biometric data: Derbas

File - Tents set-up for Syrian refugees are seen in al-Marj, in the Bekaa Valley, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: After saying that Lebanon had iris scans of Syrian refugees on record, Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas backtracked Friday afternoon, saying General Security was working with UNHCR to access the agency’s biometric data.

“The Lebanese state has eye scans of refugees on record,” he told NBN television station early Friday without elaborating.

When contacted by The Daily Star, Derbas clarified that while the government did not currently have the biometric data, it was working with UNHCR to “establish a system that would turn the data over to General Security.”

“Why wouldn’t they give it to us? They are working on Lebanese territory,” he said.

Separately, Derbas said any Syrian who “pretends to be a refugee” would be denied entry.

“Borders will not be closed in face of refugees, but in face of [anyone] who pretends to be a refugee and is not. We enjoy sovereignty in our state and can determine who is actually a refugee,” he said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 31, 2014, on page 2.

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