Derbas Denies Claims that Syrian Refugee Camps Will Be Set up in Lebanon

Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas denied recent reports saying that the United Nations is discussing with Lebanese authorities the possibility of setting up camps for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, reported the Kuwaiti daily al-Seyassah on Sunday.

He described the reports as “inaccurate,” saying that the Lebanese government, through the Ministry of Social Affairs, is in constant contact with international organizations and UNHCR over the case of the refugees.

These organizations confirmed that they will set up the camps only with the government's approval, explained the minister.

The government has not yet given the go ahead for such measures, he clarified.

Derbas revealed that Prime Minister Tammam Salam had tasked him with devising a roadmap over the case of refugees.

He did not give details about its contents, but said that it will soon be tackled by the ministerial committee in charge of the case of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

The old cabinet did not have a clear plan on how to tackle the refugee file, he noted, adding that some Lebanese powers still refuse to set up camps for the displaced.

“These refusals will however be eliminated through dialogue, discussions, and understanding,” Derbas stated.

Moreover, he revealed that the cabinet will propose to the U.N. setting up camps within Syrian territories that are not witnessing fighting.

Meanwhile, Public Information Associate for UNHCR Joelle Eid told the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat on Sunday that the “unprecedented rise in the number of Syrian refugees makes it necessary to set up camps.”

“Such a step however requires a political decision,” she remarked.

The UNHCR and the Social Affairs Ministry have conducted studies over the areas where these camps can be set.

Most of them will likely be located in the North and eastern Bekaa region, said Eid.

Media reports said on Saturday, that Director of UNHCR's Middle East and North Africa Bureau Amin Awad stated that the U.N. is discussing with Lebanese authorities the possibility of setting up camps for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

The proposal calls for establishing the camps in Lebanese territories away from the border with Syria and the dividing lines between the warring sides to limit the presence of refugees in several locations, he explained.

More than one million Syrians have registered as refugees in Lebanon after fleeing war in their country.

The conflict has killed more than 150,000 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, while half of the population is estimated to have fled their homes.


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