Middle East

Refugee influx threatens Lebanon’s existence: President

1.6 million displaced Syrians must be repatriated ‘as soon as possible’, Michel Aoun says

Wasim Saif al-Din   | 09.05.2019
Refugee influx threatens Lebanon’s existence: President

BEIRUT

President Michel Aoun warned Thursday that the continued presence of large numbers of Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Lebanon was “threatening the country's very existence”.

“Lebanon will cease to exist if half a million Palestinian refugees and 1.6 million displaced Syrians remain in the country,” he said.

Aoun made the remarks during a meeting with a delegation from the Middle East Council of Churches at Beirut’s Presidential Palace, according to a statement released by the president’s office.

The president called on the Beirut-based Council of Churches to help Lebanon resolve the issue of displaced Syrians by convincing western countries of the need to repatriate them “as soon as possible”.

He also cited recent assertions by Israeli officials that Palestinian refugees should “remain where they are”.

“If half a million Palestinian refugees and 1.6 million displaced Syrians remain in Lebanon, the country will cease to exist because its demographics will be completely altered,” Aoun warned.

More than 174,000 Palestinians currently live in 12 refugee camps and 156 Palestinian communities across Lebanon, the country’s official statistical agency has said.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of displaced Syrians in Lebanon stood at 997,000 in late 2017, not including those who weren’t registered with the agency.

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