Al-Rahi Says Refugees Impoverishing Lebanese, Backs Calls for Sending Them Home
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Sunday warned that Syrian refugees in the country have worsened the living conditions of the Lebanese, voicing support for recent calls for sending the refugees home.
“You are sensing people's economic, social and security burdens and their fear for the future, which are growing amid the presence of two million refugees and displaced individuals who are taking away the bread of the Lebanese and pushing them into a state of poverty and deprivation while forcing our young generations to emigrate,” al-Rahi said, addressing President Michel Aoun, who attended a mass marking St. Charbel's Day in Annaya.
“Despite our humanitarian solidarity with these refugees and displaced, the Lebanese call on the president to rectify the course of their certain return to their country, away from the political disputes that are obstructing the needed solutions,” the patriarch added.
Hizbullah, the Free Patriotic Movement and some of their allies have recently called for returning Syrian refugees to so-called safe zones inside Syria in coordination with the Syrian regime, but other parties led by al-Mustaqbal Movement and the Lebanese Forces have insisted that any such move should only be coordinated with the U.N. and not with Damascus.
Controversy over the issue has so far prevented the Lebanese government from taking a stance on the file and a ministerial panel is currently preparing a paper on the issue.