President Michel Aoun speaks during a meeting with Lebanese diaspora in Strasbourg on Sept. 11, 2018. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)
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Aoun called for activating the "resolutions of material support" made at the Brussels conference held in April on the refugee crisis, during which international donors pledged an estimated $4.4 billion in humanitarian aid for 2018 for Syria and the neighboring countries that shelter refugees."Thanks to your commitment to taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees, we have reduced the presence of refugees here in Europe," he said.He expressed support for the urgent need to facilitate the return of refugees without waiting for a political solution to the 7-year-old Syrian crisis. This is the stance Lebanon has adopted and that Aoun expressed hope for in his speech.Aoun's visit to France comes as Lebanese General Security has coordinated several refugee returns with the Syrian government, even as the country's competing political sides debate the extent to which the government should engage with the Syrian regime.According to a statement from both Aoun's office and the EU, EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini expressed strong support for UNRWA's ongoing work, and she briefed Aoun on preparations for an EU-hosted event on Syria during this month's upcoming U.N. General Assembly in New York.A statement from Aoun's office said Avramopoulos would be making a trip to Lebanon soon to continue discussions of the refugee crisis as well as increased cooperation between Beirut and the EU.
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