BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri urged Wednesday the international community to renew their support for Lebanon and other host countries in their efforts to cope with the influx of Syrian refugees, telling those gathered that "worsening economic conditions can lead to political and social unrest."
Addressing the international community at the 'Supporting the future of Syria and the region' donor conference in Brussels, Hariri voiced his concern at the possibility of his country slipping into turmoil as a result of the economic hardship of the displaced Syrian population.
"The threat is real," he said.
Lebanon is currently hosting over 1.5 million Syrian refugees as a bloody civil war continues to ravage neighboring Syria, with Hariri describing Lebanon as "one big refugee camp."
Yet he maintained that Lebanon has shown solidarity with those affected while putting forth their due diligence to alleviate their plight in line with "the commitments of Brussels I."
The Lebanese premier assured representatives of the 80 countries gathered that Lebanon has put in place policies to soften the economic burden of refugees, such as "waiving residency fees" while making it easier to register marriages and children born in Lebanon.
Hariri then outlined his government's vision to weather the crisis, telling donors that Lebanon needs USD 100 million per annum in order to implement the necessary infrastructure, water, and waste management projects, as well as SMEs that would provide displaced Syrians with proper employment.
Touching on the Palestinian population residing in Lebanon, which "reminds us that Lebanon has been at the forefront of the war against terrorism," Hariri appealed to the international community to cover a "USD 100 million funding gap needed to complete the reconstruction project of the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp."
The Syrian war has entered its 8th year, as President Bashar Assad's forces backed by Russia and Iran continue in their quest to regain control of the country's vast territory.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the three have a “special responsibility” to establish a cease-fire and to press Syrian President Bashar Assad to return to the negotiating table.
Britain’s State Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, agreed that Syria’s needs are enormous.
“This is the world’s greatest protection crisis. If you look at what’s happened and what’s been done to people — breaches of humanitarian laws, the weakening of multilateral norms that we have seen for a long time — it’s all focusing on Syria,” he said.
“We all know that what we do on a humanitarian basis is only the sticking plaster on the wound. You’ve got to address the wound itself. So we hope that the seriousness of the conflict and the damage that it’s done might be used to further encourage the various parties to get going again.”
Meanwhile, U.N. Syria envoy Staffan De Mistura has warned that the northern, rebel-held province of Idlib could become Syria’s newest humanitarian crisis area. - With AP.
An-Nahar is not responsible for the comments that users post below. We kindly ask you to keep this space a clean and respectful forum for discussion.