President Michel Aoun on Tuesday reiterated Lebanon's stance regarding the need for Syrian refugees to return back to their homeland, saying that this issue should not be linked to a political solution in the neighboring country.
"Lebanon rejects all attempts to procrastinate over the refugees' return issue, and supports any initiative that would help solve this matter without linking it to a political solution, which would take a lot of time to emerge," Aoun said in an address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
“Immigration, specifically that of the Syrian refugees, remains one of the most devastating consequences of war, be it on the economic, security or social level. In the name of humanitarian solidarity, Lebanon has accommodated over 1.5 million displaced who fled the anguish of war,” he stated.
“Nonetheless, the crisis which has been engendered by the Syrians and their displacement has won a huge toll on our country from economic, security and social point of view. In a country with dense population, limited resources, weak infrastructure and high unemployment rates, I am sure you understand that this is a great burden for us to shoulder."
“We recall that since 1948, the Palestinian people live in camps during winter time particularly in Lebanon, as they await political solutions and the implementation of Resolution 194. After 70 years of waiting, unfortunately, instead of finding a solution for the Palestinian issue, it now seems that there will be a definitive settlement for these people in our country since the international community is adopting a new policy granting what it does not own to those who do not deserve it,” Aoun said.
“The international policies which have been adopted in the Middle East are simply exacerbating radicalism and hatred, and opening path to further violence and terrorism,” Aoun warned, explaining that these policies are calling to question the implementation of democracy.
“The US decision to withhold aid funds from UNRWA marks the beginning of the settlement of Palestinian refugees in the countries hosting them, including Lebanon," Aoun warned.
“Lebanon is a country of emigration, not a country of settlement," he affirmed.
“What surrounds us today makes us resolutely committed to the principles which Lebanon was based on, notably democracy, which reflects our country's message that consists of co-existence, diversity and cultural wealth,” he assured.