Lebanese diaspora officially welcomed home

Reclaiming citizenship procedures might take from six to 12 months, are administrative and free of charge, according to the foreign ministry.

4 May 2017 | 18:54

Source: Annahar

  • By Nour Ghoussaini
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 4 May 2017 | 18:54

This photo shows participants at Lebanon's fourth annual Diaspora Energy conference, Thursday May 4, 2017. (Annahar Photo)

BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri signed Thursday the first official decree allowing a member of the Lebanese diaspora to claim his motherland's nationality.

Aoun said that "Lebanon's history with migration is long and painful, it’s an emotional tax paid by our families since we moved to a country that exports its children instead of its products." His remarks were delivered during a speech at the country's fourth annual Diaspora Energy Conference in Beirut under the sponsorship of the Foreign Ministry. 

The decree was issued based on a law that was first suggested in 2004 and ratified by parliament in 2015. The law allows Lebanese descendants to gain citizenship if their name or the name of any of their male ancestors, or any of their male relatives on their father’s side up to the second degree is featured on the records of 1921 till 1924 census and the 1932 emigrant census.

Petitions can be filed either in Lebanon or through Lebanese embassies or honorary consulates of their country of residence. Claiming citizenship procedures might take from six to 12 months, are administrative and free of charge, according to the foreign ministry. The law will expire on November 24, 2025, following ten years of its implementation.

“The government is working to set up a National Council of Immigration, for we owe you more than just an annual conference in Lebanon… Come back, because we are now led by a unanimously chosen president that will guide us towards legitimacy,” Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said during his speech.

Former presidential candidate in the Dominican Republic, Louis Abi Nader, praised the efforts made by Minister Bassil to reach expatriates, highlighting he was the first Lebanese minister to ever visit the Dominican Republic, and for establishing this conference to encourage Lebanese expats to come back to their homeland.

“It is admirable that all the descendants of Lebanese heritage, within which I am included, carry in their hearts the feelings of emigrants, always considering the feeling that we have never forgotten the homeland of our ancestors physically emigrated: because feelings and love never emigrate,” he said.

While former U.S. Congressman Nick Rahal said the United States has led the international coalition to help Lebanon in the midst of the refugee crisis. He reiterated the U.S.’s support for Lebanon's sovereignty, freedom, and independence.

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