Naharnet

Derbas Says Lebanon and Jordan United at Berlin Conference

Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said the stance of Lebanon and Jordan at the upcoming Berlin conference on the Syrian refugees will be united.

In remarks to An Nahar daily published Friday, Derbas said that both countries are suffering from the same repercussions of the Syrians crisis that resulted in millions of refugees.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam is set to give Lebanon's speech at the conference on Tuesday.

Lebanon has asked for assistance worth 2.2 billion to support the economy which suffered badly as a result of the crisis, Derbas said. “We should have received that amount by the end of 2014 but we didn't.”

The government agreed on Thursday not to accept any more refugees from Syria, except in what authorities deem to be "exceptional" cases.

Lebanon has around 1.5 million Syrian refugees. They have stretched the country's already fragile infrastructure and compete with Lebanon's poorest for low-paid jobs, causing tensions.

Tens of thousands of Syrian children are out of school because there is nowhere to place them.

Economy and Trade Minister Alain Hakim described the government's decision as a major achievement.

In remarks to al-Liwaa published Friday, he hailed the cabinet's members for overcoming their disagreements and approving the new policy, which was seen as a major move against international efforts to permanently settle the refugees in Lebanon.

As Safir daily said Thursday that Salam, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and Derbas thwarted an attempt to push Lebanon towards signing the 1951 Geneva Convention on the status of refugees.

According to the report, Turkey largely contributed to issuing a document at the Berlin conference, which is set to be held at the German foreign ministry, under which a clause states that Lebanon should sign the Convention on the refugees.

The document is part of the closing statement of the conference, which will later be given legitimacy through a U.N. Security Council presidential statement, the daily said.

The 1951 Convention, which Lebanon has not signed, is the key legal document in defining who are refugees, their rights and the legal obligations of states.

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