BEIRUT: Lebanon wants an Arab League meeting to discuss the issue of the growing number of Syrian refugees on its soil, Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour told the organization’s chief Friday.
According to Mansour’s press office, the minister contacted Nabil Elarabi and put him in the picture with regard to the Syrian refugee situation in the country and informed him “that he [Mansour] will send him a memo stipulating Lebanon's desire to call for an exceptional meeting of Arab foreign ministers to discuss the issue.”
Elarabi told Mansour that upon reception of the memo he would make the necessary contacts with Arab ministers to hold the meeting.
Mansour’s step is part of the government’s comprehensive plan that it approved a day earlier to meet the demands of some 170,000 Syrians refugees who have fled the violence in their home country since March 15, 2012.
Among the measures included in the government’s plan are urging donor countries to implement their pledges to extend aid to Lebanon and calling on the Arab League and international organizations to hold emergency meetings to highlight the situation of the refugees.
Earlier in the day, Mansour discussed with Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel-Karim Ali joint steps to address the issue of the refugees, the foreign minister’s office said.
“The reason for the summons is to discuss what we can jointly do to facilitate the return of refugees to Syria and form a Lebanese-Syrian committee for this purpose which comprises of concerned agencies from the two countries,” the minister told reporters after his meeting with Ali.
Ali said he agreed with Mansour on the need to continue coordination between the two countries through the embassy to ameliorate the suffering of the refugees.
“I told Minister Mansour that many Syrians in nearby sisterly states are returning by themselves to their home country and Syria welcomes the return of all its citizens, particularly given that security is being restored in hotspots and that some of the terrorist groups are either turning themselves in or being eliminated,” Ali said.
He also urged Lebanon to determine which of the refugees entering the country are seeking temporary shelter and those who are “terrorists coming here to carry out explosions.”