Lebanon rejects calls to resettle Syrian refugees

Syrian civilians and militants who were evacuated from northeastern Lebanon gather near buses after crossing into the rebel-held area of Al-Saan in the central Hama province, in this August 3, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2017

Lebanon rejects calls to resettle Syrian refugees

BEIRUT: Lebanon has rejected suggestions that refugees from the Syrian conflict could be permanently resettled there.
The Lebanese constitution said the country was “one for all Lebanese; and there will be no classification of people or land and there will be no settlements,” the parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri said. “The Parliament has already rejected resettlement calls several times before,” and “amending the constitution is out of question.”
Lebanon currently hosts more than 1.5 million displaced Syrians and 450,000 Palestinian refugees, earning the gratitude of US President Donald Trump in his speech to the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.
“We especially thank Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees from the Syrian conflict,” Trump said. But he continued: “We support recent agreements of the G-20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible. This is the safe, responsible and humanitarian approach.”
His remarks were viewed as suggesting that Syrian refugees could resettle permanently in Lebanon, but Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said: “No one is talking about resettlement in Lebanon; we have our constitution and our sovereignty.
“What was said at the United Nations represents a political idea and does not compel anyone to comply. There is no international resolution about this matter and there won’t be any binding resolution that would oblige us to naturalize Syrian refugees or others. There is no need for all this over-emphasis on the subject.”
Former Lebanese President Michel Sleiman called for “a plan to ensure the safe return of displaced Syrians to their country, especially now that the Syrian barrens are safe and calm.
“The Lebanese consensus is the strongest weapon for facing any fait accompli. This consensus must be upheld to ensure the safe return of Syrians to their homes.”
Lebanon’s Justice Minister Salim Jreissati said: “There will be no resettlement of any displaced person in Lebanon.” He called on “other countries to take the position that is appropriate to their sovereignty.”
Samir Al-Jisr, an MP from Al-Mustaqbal bloc, said: “Lebanon is involved in the solution for Syria and any new move will have repercussions on Lebanon; we should keep Lebanon as far as possible out of regional problems.
“There should be new solutions for displaced Syrians without burdening Lebanon on economic, social and political levels. Those who call for the normalization of relations between the Syrian and Lebanese governments in order to find a proper solution for the return of the displaced do not really want them to return to Syria.
“We cannot afford to send them to specific areas and exclude other areas due to demographic issues in Syria. The Lebanese government does not prevent anyone from returning to Syria; hundreds have already left Lebanon and returned to Syria.”


Over 3 million virus cases reported in Mideast

Labourers, wearing protective face masks, disinfect the front of restaurant in Dubai's marina on March 16, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 31 October 2020

Over 3 million virus cases reported in Mideast

  • Labourers, wearing protective face masks, disinfect the front of restaurant in Dubai's marina on March 16, 2020

DUBAI: The number of reported coronavirus cases has gone over 3 million in the Middle East, an Associated Press count showed on Friday, with the true number likely even higher.
Across the Mideast, there have been over 75,000 deaths attributed to the virus by health authorities, the AP count relying on reported figures by individual countries shows.
There have been 2.5 million recoveries from the virus causing the COVID-19 illness.
In the Mideast, the hardest-hit nation remains Iran, which served as the initial epicenter of the virus in the region. In Iran alone, authorities say there have been over 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with some 477,000 recoveries and 34,000 deaths. Yet even those numbers are believed to be low, Iranian officials say.

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Deaths have been reported in the Middle East region due to the coronavirus, according to health authorities.

In some war-torn nations, it remains difficult to know the scope of the pandemic as well. In Yemen for instance, it’s believed that the vast majority of the country’s cases have gone undiagnosed and untreated, and health workers have said only those who are near death are usually brought to hospitals.