Miqati Vows Not to Close Border Despite Limited Capabilities in Resolving Refugee Problemإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Prime Minister Najib Miqati appeased fears on Friday on the possible closure of the Lebanese-Syrian border after several ministers said Lebanon should stop receiving refugees fleeing the turmoil in Syria.
In a statement to religious personalities in the northern city of Tripoli and in remarks published in As Safir daily, Miqati said: “It is impossible for us to close our border with Syria as we have historic ties with it.”
“Our help for the refugees is on humanitarian grounds,” he said, adding “the government will not close the border to the displaced escaping death to Lebanon.”
“But we are taking all the security measures to control the border,” he said.
While admitting that Lebanon can no longer face the influx of refugees, he said the government is preparing a plan to resolve the issue and discuss it during an extraordinary cabinet session after the New Year.
During a session held on Wednesday, Free Patriotic Movement's Energy Minister Jebran Bassil and Minister of State Ali Qanso from the Syrian Social Nationalist Party proposed closing the border with Syria and halt the influx of the refugees.
Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour also told a radio station on Thursday that it was “the responsibility of the state to control the border.”
“The refugees could head to other Syrian cities rather than entering Lebanon,” the minister said.
But Mansour denied to As Safir on Friday that he has called for the closure of the border. “The movement of the displaced to Lebanon should be controlled … to know who's coming and for which purposes and reasons similar to measures taken in Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.”
“Lebanon will not be able to support a 16 percent population rise,” he stressed.
In his statement to As Safir and in similar remarks made to An Nahar newspaper, Miqati said that he has received promises from the international community for financial assistance in early January to meet the needs of the refugees.
“Our capabilities in resolving the problems of the majority of the displaced are limited that's why we resorted to the United Nations, donor countries and friendly states to help us overcome these problems,” he said.