SNC to Bassil: Press Your 'Terrorist Ally' Hizbullah to Withdraw so that Syrians Can Return Homeإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The opposition Syrian National Coalition on Friday snapped back at Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, calling on him to press Hizbullah to withdraw from Syria “instead of launching verdicts against Syrian refugees.”
“Once again Lebanese Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil comes up with a number of fallacies that contradict with the living situations of Syrian refugees in Lebanon,” Coalition member Alia Mansour said in a statement.
“He has gone too far to criticize the deliveries of pregnant Syrian women in Lebanese hospitals and to voice concerns over the education of Syrian children fleeing the death verdicts issued by the Assad regime, with which Bassil has allied against the entire Syrian people,” Mansour added.
Earlier on Friday, Bassil warned of a “veiled attempt to naturalize the refugees" through creating camps inside Lebanese territory.
But Mansour called on the Lebanese minister to “press his terrorist ally Hizbullah to withdraw its militias from Syria so that Syrians can return home instead of launching his verdicts against Syrian refugees.”
“Despite the bill that is being paid by the Lebanese people, we remind that Syria's people are being killed on daily basis at the hands of the Syrian regime,” Mansour said, wondering if it's logical to “deprive these people of their natural right to escape this death.”
She reassured that the Syrians do not want to be naturalized in Lebanon.
“They have a homeland and they insist to return to it to rebuild it after it was destroyed by the Assad regime,” Mansour said, noting that setting up camps on the Lebanese border would “alleviate the burdens of the refugee influx on the Lebanese, organize aid and help obtain greater assistance.”
Bassil had warned that the Syrian refugee crisis may lead to "strife" in Lebanon between Syrians and Lebanese should it remain unsolved.
"We believe the situation has reached breaking point, and I am echoing the words of security officials," he said.
To highlight the scale of the influx, Bassil compared it to transferring the entire population of Romania to Britain or France.
Hosting more than 1.1 million Syrians fleeing their country's three-year war, Lebanon is home to the highest number of Syrian refugees in the region, and also to the highest refugee population per capita in the world.
Bassil spoke at a news conference focusing on the refugee crisis a day after the United Nations warned that Syrian refugees will comprise more than a third of Lebanon's population by the end of 2014.
Calling for the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon to be reduced, Bassil said they should not be helped financially because "that encourages them to stay."
He also said the number of Syrian children in public sector primary and middle schools stands at 88,000 -- 3,000 more than that of Lebanese and other foreigners combined.
Most Lebanese children attend private schools.
The medical sector has also been affected, Bassil said, noting that in one of Beirut's biggest hospitals, "80 Syrian children were born in May, compared with 40 Lebanese children."
He bemoaned the financial burden borne by Lebanon because of the refugee crisis. "Lebanon pays $100 million a month to provide free electricity to Syrian refugees," said Bassil.
He also said an international fund set up to help Lebanon get through the crisis has only been given limited support, and that "even if funding reaches $100 million, that will barely be enough to pay for a month's power."