Hariri at Brussels Conference: Lebanon Turned into a Big Refugee Camp

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At the inaugural session of the Brussels II Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region Wednesday, Prime Minister Saad Hariri pointed out that the situation in Lebanon is worsening as it hosts around 1.5 displaced Syrians, saying the country has turned into a big camp for refugees.

“It is of paramount importance that the International community continues to work with Lebanon to help it deal with the challenges associated with the severe and unprecedented Syrians displaced crisis, whether through humanitarian assistance or through development projects that would help improve the livelihoods of the displaced and host communities,” said Hariri.

“The tragedy of the Syrian people continues for the eighth year, and Lebanon continues to show exceptional hospitality, generosity and solidarity with the displaced Syrians, at a time when the capacities of the host communities and government infrastructure and services, are being overstretched and exhausted,” he said.

He noted that in spite of “all our combined efforts, conditions have deteriorated. Lebanon continues to be a big refugees camp,” adding that “tensions between the Syrian displaced and host communities have increased, partly because of competition over scarce resources and jobs, and partly because the host communities have seen their economic and social conditions worsen due to the crisis.”

Pointing to government facilitations for refugees, Hariri said: “The government of Lebanon waived the residency fee for the displaced thereby allowing them to renew their legal stay while easing the financial burden. The government also adopted important measures to facilitate the birth registration of displaced children born in Lebanon. It made easy the registration of a marriage if only one spouse has legal residency. Most recently, displaced children who turned 15 years old in Lebanon and are not in possession of a Syrian ID or passport, have been authorized to present a civil extract to secure legal residency.”

“Progress was made in the education sector where a 13% increase in the overall enrollment of displaced children in formal education with a total of 221,000 children enrolled in public schools, 68,000 in private and subsidized schools, and 93,000 enrolled in non-formal education programs,” said Hariri.

The Ministry of Public Health, together with its national and international partners, has made major progress to ensure that affordable healthcare is provided to the displaced.

“Moreover, at the Rome II conference, international partners demonstrated strong support, commitment and contribution to the strengthening of the Lebanese military and security institutions, thereby underscoring Lebanon’s role as an important player in the stability of the region.

“We just returned from Paris, where the Government of Lebanon presented a comprehensive vision for stability and sustainable long-term growth and job creation, based on the basic premises I presented to you in Brussels I. The success of CEDRE reaffirms the commitment of our international partners to Lebanon's economic stability and prosperity. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our friends in the international community for their generous support and for mobilizing enough funds to secure the financing of phase I of the government's capital investment program,” said the Premier.

Hariri added that despite all the progress and the achievements over the past years, Lebanon continues to face challenges. The worsening economic and social conditions could result in increasing social discontent, which could lead to unrest and violence and threaten the country’s security and political stability.

“It is of paramount importance that we continue working together to reverse adverse trends, whether through humanitarian assistance or through development projects that would help improve the livelihoods of the displaced and host communities,” he stressed.

Listing Lebanon’s priorities, Hariri said: “First, the Lebanon Country Response Plan should be appropriately funded. Our appeal for 2018 is around 2.7 USD billions with disbursements to date reaching 11% only. Second, multiyear commitments should be secured to ensure sustainability of multi-year projects like RACE II. Third, support to host communities should be increased to a least USD 100 million per year. Fourth, support the development of the Lebanese social protection system.Fifth, support the National Strategic Framework for Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET), to promote a system that provides youth and workers with the competences and skills they need to access decent work, and allow businesses to recruit the workforce they need for their growth.

He concluded: “Lastly, I ask your support for the reconstruction of the Nahr el Bared camp for the Palestinian refugees. This camp reminds us that Lebanon has been at the forefront of the war against terrorism since the very start. Again, I call upon you to support Lebanon in this daunting task. This is a collective responsibility. We hope and pray for a speedy settlement of the tragedy of the Syrian people.”

SourceNaharnet
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