UNHCR withdraws memo sent to interior ministry after Bou Habib summons representative


Based on a request from caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib, the U.N. Refugee Agency said it has withdrawn a memo it had sent to the Interior Ministry on Friday.

“UNHCR wishes to clarify that the letter addressed to the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities last week, including a proposal to meet, was sent as per standard practice in line with UNHCR’s mandated responsibilities when there are issues related to vulnerable communities in Lebanon, including refugees,” UNHCR said in a statement.

“UNHCR remains a supportive, transparent and constructive partner in Lebanon. In that regard, we will continue to advocate for increased assistance to Lebanon and help mobilize resources to cater to the pressing needs of the most vulnerable. UNHCR also continues to emphasize the importance for the international community to prioritize durable solutions for refugees to help alleviate the pressures in Lebanon, including through supporting more conducive return conditions in Syria,” it added.

Bou Habib had summoned UNHCR representative Ivo Freijsen and asked him to “withdraw the memo and consider it null and void,” stressing “the need to respect the norms of communication with the competent Lebanese ministries and administrations,” and pointing out that the memo should have been sent via the Foreign Ministry as per the law.

UNHCR “should not interfere in Lebanon’s sovereign jurisdiction and should abide by Lebanese laws for all the individuals and organizations that reside in Lebanon, in line with all the international legislation.”

Bou Habib also called on UNHCR to “deliver the refugee data, fully and without delay, within a period not exceeding the end of the current month, as per the memorandum of understanding signed with the Foreign Ministry on August 8, 2023.”

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