BEIRUT: Lebanon should coordinate to distribute refugees into “safe areas” in Syria and in other Arab countries, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai said Sunday.
“The state should cooperate with the international community so Lebanon does not over stretch its capacity, and distribute refugees over the Arab countries and safe areas in Syria,” said Rai in his Bkirki sermon.
He also said Lebanon should watch who is coming into the country.
“Receiving refugees is a humanitarian duty, but the state should control and monitor the incomers to Lebanon to prevent any infiltration of arms into the country,” the patriarch said.
Last week Syrian Ambassador Ali Abdel-Karim Ali said Syrian officials had discussed with the Lebanese government the possibility of returning refugees to areas of Syria that the government is rebuilding.
More than 212,000 Syrians have sought help from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, according to the body’s latest figures.
Rai also reiterated his call for a new electoral law that enhances democracy and Muslim-Christian partnership in the country.
“The Lebanese people are looking forward to a new electoral law that will not serve to increase sectarianism, but boost democracy and Muslim-Christian partnership in the country,” said Rai.
He added that a new electoral law should not aim to increase the number of people’s representatives in the country.
Lebanon’s rival parties are yet to agree on a new legislative framework for parliamentary elections currently scheduled to take place in June.