Lebanon Close its Doors to Syrian Refugees

Lebanon Close its Doors to Syrian Refugees
Thu Oct 23, 2014 21:53:23

The Lebanese government says the tiny Mediterranean country will not accept any more Syrian refugees except “exceptional” cases.

Thursday's statement by Information Minister Ramzi Jreij says Lebanon cannot handle any more refugees.

There are some 1.1 million Syrian refugees officially registered in Lebanon, making up almost a quarter of the country's population.

Jreij says the government will ask the U.N. refugee agency not to register any more cases in Lebanon and that Syrian refugees already here would be “encouraged to return to their country” or go elsewhere.

The Syrian unrest has had an enormous impact on Lebanon. The refugees have stretched the country's already fragile infrastructure and are competing with Lebanon's poorest for low-paid jobs.

Not all Syrian refugees enter Lebanon through official crossings, however, with many traversing the porous and difficult-to-patrol frontier.

The influx has tested overstretched infrastructure, and created fresh tensions. In August, two terrorist groups crossed from Syria into the eastern town of Arsal, sparking clashes with the military that left dozens of people dead. The retreating terrorists took with them some 30 Lebanese police and troops as hostages, and have since executed three of them.

The UNHCR has regularly urged the international community to provide Lebanon with greater assistance to tackle the influx.The agency has also called on other countries to open their doors to fleeing Syrians to ease the burden on Lebanon and other neighboring states.

More than three million Syrians have fled their country since the war began in March 2011, with most taking shelter in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

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