Change and Reform Urges Action on Refugees to Protect 'Our Security, Their Safety'إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The Change and Reform parliamentary bloc on Tuesday urged the government to “shoulder its responsibilities towards the Syrian refugee crisis,” asking it to “take central decisions to protect our security and that of the refugees so that they can safely return to their homeland.”
"We cannot neglect our security and borders and we must talk to the Syrian state regarding the refugees' return to their country," said the bloc in a statement issued after its weekly meeting in Rabieh.
The statement comes a day after eight suicide bombers targeted the Bekaa border town of al-Qaa in an unprecedented attack that left five people dead and 28 others wounded.
Al-Qaa and the nearby Ras Baalbek are the only two towns with a Christian majority in the predominantly Shiite Hermel region. The area of Mashrii al-Qaa -- a predominantly Sunni area near al-Qaa -- is home to a large number of Syrian refugees.
“Decisions must be taken to help municipalities confront the threat of the Syrian refugee influx,” Change and Reform added.
“If they consider our defense of our country to be racism, we tell them that we will not tolerate vacuum in the issue of the decisions that must be taken by the officials,” the bloc warned.
“No one has the right to jeopardize the lives of the Lebanese or to downplay the risks that are emanating from the unorganized Syrian refugee influx,” it stressed.
During the meeting, bloc chief MP Michel Aoun warned that “there are countries that are seeking the naturalization of refugees in Lebanon and keeping them in dire conditions in order to turn them into incubators for terrorism,” the bloc added.
It also defended Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil's latest warnings regarding the refugee crisis, saying “he was accused of racism because he voiced responsible remarks and anticipated the threats.”
On Sunday, Bassil announced that the FPM will seek to bar Syrian refugees from setting up encampments and opening shops in towns that witnessed FPM victories in the latest municipal elections.
More than 1,000 unofficial refugee encampments are scattered across Lebanon, mostly in the Bekaa and the North.
Several FPM and Kataeb Party ministers have warned that the huge number of refugees in Lebanon has started to pose major security, economic and demographic risks. They have also warned of alleged international efforts to naturalize or permanently settle the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
Five years into the Syria conflict, Lebanon hosts more than one million refugees from the war-torn country, according to the United Nations. At least two thirds of them live in extreme poverty, the U.N. says.