Geagea: Lebanese-Syrian Tensions Fueled by Economic Situation, Not Xenophobia
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea noted Monday that the growing tensions between Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugees are not of a “xenophobic” nature but are rather related to the difficult economic situation.
“The refugee influx has caused major repercussions, topped by the tensions that are growing day after day between Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugees,” Geagea said at a Maarab seminar on terrorism.
“These tensions are not xenophobic, religious, sectarian or political, but have been caused by the fact that a narrow territory, a small economy and a weak infrastructure cannot cope with 1.5 million displaced Syrians... There is a proverb that says that the lack of money leads to bickering, especially regarding the issue of job opportunities,” Geagea explained.
As for the thorny issue of returning refugees to Syria, Geagea noted that the LF has prepared a paper in this regard and sent it to some parliamentary blocs.
“The paper calls on the Lebanese government to take a decision to help Syrian refugees return to Syria, especially to the Syrian south where Russia and the U.S. are present, in addition to the Kurdish-majority northeastern region,” Geagea said.
“Each of these two regions is bigger than Lebanon and contains major infrastructure,” the LF leader noted, urging the Lebanese government to “cooperate with the international institutions to devise a plan for the return of the refugees.”
Geagea also suggested that the return of refugees should begin with those among them who “do not have a problem with the regime.”
“Why don't we start with this part? Let them go to the regime's strongholds and this will alleviate the burden on Lebanon,” the LF leader added, referring to Syrians who have visited Syria several times since the eruption of the Syrian conflict.
“This needs a stance from the Lebanese government,” Geagea went on to say, while rejecting “any politicization of the issue.”
“Any call for reestablishing ties or expanding relations with the Syrian regime will only obstruct the return of the refugees,” he warned.