BEIRUT: Energy and Water Minister Gebran Bassil warned Friday against establishing refugee camps for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
“I am against establishing refugee camps in Lebanon for many reasons ... unfortunately, such camps will eventually turn into centers for armament,” said Bassil following a meeting with U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Ninette Kelley, according to a statement from the minister's press office.
According to Bassil, refugee camps, if established, would turn into “a shelter for outlaws and wanted people who have nothing to do with the humanitarian aspect of the Syrian crisis.”
“We cannot separate this from politics,” he was quoted as saying.
The minister also criticized officials throwing support behind establishing such camps and questioned if such suggestions were genuinely out of humanitarian concerns.
“We hear officials and ministers in the state saying that establishing camps for refugees is inevitable,” said Bassil, in an apparent response to both President Michel Sleiman and Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour.
President Michel Sleiman said earlier this week that Lebanon could build refugee camps in order to better monitor and regulate the large number of Syrian refugees in the country.
Days earlier, Abu Faour said the establishment of refugee camps for the displaced may be inevitable.
Bassil urged Friday officials not to rush to such measures.
“I hope everyone will think carefully about this before trying to impose such a status for political, security or even military purposes,” Bassil said.