Cabinet Ministers Clash over Request of Funds to Help Syrian Refugeesإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The cabinet failed on Tuesday to approve a request from the social affairs ministry to allocate LL100 million to provide more humanitarian assistance to the Syrian refugees who have fled the deadly crackdown by the regime on protestors.
“The fund that we had asked for is not for refugees but for the centers of the social affairs ministry in the area of Akkar that is exerting the essential effort in the issue of the displaced,” Social Affairs Minister Wael Abou Faour told An Nahar daily published Wednesday.
“The Higher Relief Council does not have employees and centers. On the contrary, it relies on the staff of the social affairs ministry,” he said, stressing however that the requested fund is not worth the argument that took place inside the cabinet.
“This won’t affect the job that the ministry is doing with the HRC in carrying out the duties of the Lebanese state towards the displaced Syrians based on humanitarian and not political grounds,” Wael Abou Faour told the newspaper.
His comments came a day after several cabinet ministers rejected the fund during a session held at the Grand Serail, arguing that the Syrian refugees were criminals.
An Nahar quoted Interior Minister Marwan Charbel as saying that the number of the displaced has reached more than 250,000. He stressed that the rate of crimes in Lebanon increased lately and that 95 percent of them are being carried out by Syrian nationals.
Minister Marwan Khaireddine expressed fears on the ability of the Lebanese state to face additional burdens and confront the same problem of Palestinian refugees in the country.
He said it is the duty of the Lebanese government to provide assistance to the injured but that it should exert efforts to help them go back to their villages and towns.
Minister of State Nicolas Fattoush also stressed that it was the duty of the Syrian embassy to provide assistance to the refugees based on bilateral agreements signed between Lebanon and Syria.
But Abou Faour argued with him, saying the regime of President Bashar Assad was the reason behind their displacement.
“We admit that there are disagreements in the government on the issue but we only want to deal with it on humanitarian and not political grounds,” he snapped back at Fattoush.
Culture Minister Gaby Layyoun launched the most scathing attack on the refugees, saying some of those receiving treatment at Lebanese hospitals at the expense of the Higher Relief Council are criminals that have carried out terrorist activities in Syria.
But Abou Faour defended his request for the additional funds, reading a report that says children with bullet wounds in their legs are being admitted to the hospitals.
The dispute between the ministers ended when Abou Faour asked to withdraw the article from the cabinet agenda, saying “the social affairs ministry knows what it will do.”
But the government approved to accept donations by foreign parties to the HRC to help the refugees.
In his remarks to An Nahar, the minister hailed the stance of Hizbullah and Amal representatives in the cabinet who had stressed that securing the funds is only a humanitarian issue.