Bassil Warns of Catastrophic Effects of Refugee Crisis

Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil has said that the Syrian refugee crisis has had very harmful effects on Lebanon's security and economy.

“This crisis had catastrophic effects on security, development, the economy, the society and the environment,” Bassil said in a speech he gave at the Group of 77 and China meeting that was held in New York.

The 39th annual meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the member states of the Group of 77 and China was held in preparation for the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit.

The crisis “broke the ability of our institutions to bear (its consequences) in health, education, energy, water and infrastructure,” Bassil said.

He stressed that Lebanon is being punished over the huge burden of refugees and with the absence of financial aid such as long-term loans with low interest rates.

His speech at the conference came as European Union leaders pledged on Thursday to boost support to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan to help them cope with the millions fleeing the fighting in Syria.

Bassil said that Lebanon, whose population is around 4 million, is hosting around 1.5 million displaced Syrians in addition to 500,000 Palestinian refugees.

The foreign minister held talks with several of his Arab and Western counterparts on the sidelines of the meeting.

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