BEIRUT: Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun Tuesday accused the international community of conspiring to settle a huge number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
“The international community is throwing the refugee burden on Lebanon,” Aoun said after the Change and Reform Bloc’s weekly meeting, accusing Arab countries and Europe of causing the refugee crisis by supporting the Syrian rebellion, but refusing to deal with its humanitarian consequences.
“Lebanon cannot handle the affliction of refugees anymore. It is overpopulated and does not have any resources,” he added.
“Some evidence suggests that the refugees currently living in Lebanon are planning to stay... We reiterate that we shall not and we will not nationalize Syrian or Palestinian refugees,” Aoun said.
He called on refugees who move back and forth between Syria and Lebanon, or who work in Lebanon, to return to their country.
“Either way, their country will need millions of residents to rebuild it,” he said.
Aoun also addressed Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai, saying: “We are now in a political crisis. We need a new president who will defend our land and our identity and fight economic corruption which is the main reason behind Lebanese emigration.”
Rai calls for the election of a president in nearly every statement he makes, but has not endorsed any candidate.
Aoun also rejected a report in Al-Anbaa that linked the issue of the military appointments to the garbage crisis, insisting that "the two matters are not related."
Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who is Aoun's son-in-law and is set to take over his party's leadership, had called for Syrian refugees in Lebanon to return to "safe-zones" in their country.
Lebanon has effectively closed its border to new Syrian refugees.
The presence of over 1.1 million registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which already suffers from a fragile socio-economic, political and security situation, has presented the country with enormous challenges.
Speaking at a joint news conference with his Brazilian counterpart Mauro Vieira, Bassil highlighted that the solution to the crisis in Syria "should be decided by the Syrians."
He urged European countries to carefully deal with the large influx of refugees, warning "it could cause an imbalance in the identity of Europe, which would lead the whole world into disorder."
Bassil called for a "comprehensive and integrated international response to terrorism."
The Brazilian FM, who arrived in Lebanon on Monday in Beirut on a two-day official visit, revealed that his country granted more than 7,000 visas for Syrian refugees, denouncing “all kinds of terrorism" and calling for peaceful dialogue between the feuding sides.