Naharnet

Mashnouq Says State to Facilitate Departure of Syrians, Fix their Legal Documents

Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq revealed on Sunday that the state will establish lines dedicated for Syrian nationals along land border crossings and at the airport to fix their legal status, if they intend to depart Lebanon.

“The lines will be established on all legal border crossings, at Beirut International Airport and near the (northeastern) town of Arsal,” Mashnouq said in comments published in al-Mustaqbal newspaper.

He pointed out that the lines dedicated for Syrians only aim at helping Syrians, who intend to leave Lebanon, with fixing their departure documents, which would reduce the huge pressure on all the country's border by land and air.

The minister stressed that the government's decision to relieve Syrians seeking to leave the country of residency taxes will be fruitful in reducing their numbers.

We have official data proving that the decision had a positive impact on reducing the numbers of Syrians in Lebanon, Mashnouq noted.

On Thursday, the cabinet announced a measure aimed at “encouraging” Syrian refugees to leave Lebanon by endorsing a decree to relieve those who are seeking to leave Lebanon of residency taxes.

Mashnouq praised the role of the General Security Directorate in “seriously” implementing the cabinet's decision.

More than a million Syrians have fled their war-torn country for Lebanon in the past three years, according to the United Nations and there's a rise in the number of unregistered ones.

In June, Mashnouq had announced that Syrian refugees in Lebanon will lose their status as such if they return home for a visit.

"Syrian displaced people who are registered with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees are requested to refrain from entering into Syria starting June 1, 2014, or be penalized by losing their status as refugees in Lebanon.”

The refugee influx into Lebanon has burdened the country's weak economy, with politicians on all sides calling for measures to limit the flow.

Lebanon has not signed the Convention on Refugees, and refers to Syrians forced out of their country by war as "displaced."

The authorities say the actual number of Syrians in Lebanon is far higher than the 1.1 million accounted for by UNHCR.

Lebanon has frequently complained it lacks the necessary resources to cope with them, and that the labor market is struggling to accommodate them.


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