Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib on Wednesday called for a comprehensive dialogue with the European Union (EU) to address the Syrian refugee issue in Lebanon.
In a letter sent to Josep Borrell, EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Bou Habib said a “constructive and comprehensive dialogue” between Lebanon and the EU needs to be launched regarding the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, who have become “a threat not only to Lebanon’s social structure and economic stability, but also to its continued existence as an entity.”
“Lebanon adheres to its rights and responsibilities in facilitating the safe and dignified return of the displaced Syrians to their homes, in particular to safe areas, in line with the international law, and in a way that does not contradict the Lebanese constitution, which stipulates that Lebanon is not a country of asylum,” the National News Agency (NNA) quoted the letter as saying.
He also underlined the need for the international community to address the causes of Syrians’ displacement and to accelerate early recovery, including securing basic infrastructure and social services in Syria, to facilitate the return of the refugees.
The minister reiterated Lebanon’s readiness to launch a dialogue with the EU to draw up a road map for the return of the displaced Syrians to their home country.
Lebanon remains the country hosting the largest number of refugees per capita, with the government estimating around 1.5 million Syrian refugees.
The country has been suffering from an unprecedented financial crisis, and the refugees weigh heavily on the country’s economy and infrastructure.