BEIRUT: The number of Syrian refugees has dropped in recent months, as the government reviewed the criteria determining refugee status, Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said Wednesday, reaffirming that Lebanon was not a country of resettlement.
“Syrian refugees in Lebanon decreased from an estimated 1.2 to 1.1 million, which is an average of 100,000 people, a figure that we consider as acceptable,” Derbas said in comments published Wednesday in daily Al-Liwaa.
He said an estimated 4,000 refugees had also been accepted for permanent settlement in third countries, a trend that Lebanon will be encouraging at a meeting in Geneva next month to discuss resettlement of Syrian refugees.
“Lebanon will facilitate the resettlement of Syrian refugees in other countries, in an effort to alleviate the refugee burden under which it is reeling,” Derbas said.
He made the comments following a meeting Tuesday of a ministerial committee in charge of the refugee file.
He said the meeting discussed the benchmarks and humanitarian considerations that determine the legitimacy of seeking refuge in Lebanon.
“The Social Affairs Ministry is currently preparing a special program for reconsidering the so-called legitimacy of displacement [from Syria] to Lebanon,” he said.
Derbas also denied in comments made to Voice of Lebanon radio Wednesday allegations that the government might be considering the establishment of Syrian refugee camps in Tripoli’s Al-Mina area.
“The government has taken a firm decision to stop Syrian displacement to Lebanon, and it is currently setting up specialized teams to conduct a field study on whether the refugees conform to displacement criteria,” Derbas said.