By Ayhan Simsek
German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged on Tuesday to support Lebanon in the small country’s efforts to cope with around a million refugees from neighboring Syria.
Speaking at a joint news conference with visiting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Merkel praised Lebanon for hosting people who fled Syria's war.
“We are the second-largest donor country for Lebanon and provided nearly €386 million ($411 million) last year.
"We are trying to help Lebanon cope with this crisis, and we are also trying to use this crisis situation to promote economic momentum here,” she said.
Lebanon has seen a huge influx of refugees from the war in Syria, despite the small Middle Eastern state only having a 4.5-million-strong population of its own.
The refugee influx has severely strained Lebanon’s economy and its public services.
Merkel said Germany's assistance for Lebanon would not only be used for refugees, but also for the wellbeing of the Lebanese people.
“There shouldn’t be an impression [that] the international community only takes care of the refugees; we have to look at the whole of the country,” she said.
Lebanon also hosts around 500,000 Palestinian refugees.
Hariri thanked Germany for its support and urged stronger solidarity from the EU and the international community in addressing the refugee crisis.
“Lebanon today is providing a public good on behalf of the world,” he said.