Congressman Darrin Lahood speaks in Beirut, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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United States Congressman Darin LaHood said Wednesday that the 1.5 million refugees sheltering in Lebanon were the equivalent of 100 million coming to America.Last month's visit to Washington by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the nearly $100 million military donations by the U.S. to the Lebanese Army this week and now LaHood's visit reiterate the support the Americans are willing to give Lebanon.While there is conflict within the Lebanese government as to how the refugees will return – whether through direct coordination with the Syrian regime or only via the U.N. – the U.S. has shown its willingness to push for the return of refugees to Syria."You have to balance the unique situation that Lebanon is in, and raising that issue with the United Nations is something that I did this week," LaHood said, the day after meeting with UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency.The effect of the Syrian crisis and hosting refugees on the Lebanese economy and its already aged and poor infrastructure, he said, was completely different than the effect on Jordan or Turkey – two other major hosts of Syrian refugees in the region. LaHood, who is a member of the Lebanese-U.S. caucus, hails from and represents Peoria, Illinois, an area with around 8,000 Lebanese families.The American lawmaker with Lebanese roots held meetings to look at how the U.S. can help the country.
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