Ministers discuss refugee crisis at Grand Serail


Ministers met Tuesday at the Grand Serail in a ministerial, judicial and security meeting to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis.

The killing of Lebanese Forces Jbeil coordinator Pascal Sleiman earlier this month by a Syrian gang has triggered a backlash against Syrian refugees.

Lebanese politicians and religious leaders urged Lebanese to show restraint, as hundreds of residents blocked roads in Byblos and footage circulated on social media of violence against Syrians -- many of them refugees from their country's more than decade-old civil war.

The tiny Mediterranean country of over 6 million people, including refugees, hosts what the U.N. refugee agency says are nearly 785,000 U.N.-registered Syrian refugees, of which 90% rely on aid to survive. Lebanese officials estimate the actual number could be as high as 1.5 or 2 million.

Caretaker interior minister Bassam Mawlawi had earlier said that 35% of detainees in Lebanon’s prisons are Syrian nationals, emphasizing the need to strictly enforce Lebanese laws on displaced Syrians. "The Syrian presence in Lebanon must be limited," he said.

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