Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, has threatened Western countries with the expulsion of Syrian refugees if the international community does not help his country, in light of the economic crisis it is witnessing.
“Our meeting is taking place amidst an unprecedented crisis in Lebanon,” Mikati said on the sidelines of the launch of Lebanon’s 2022-2023 Syrian crisis response plan, according to AFP.
Warning to the international community
“This requires highlighting the financial and economic imperatives that Lebanon, which hosts a large proportion of displaced Syrians relative to the population, needs financial and economic assets to rise up all sectors.”
“Otherwise, Lebanon will have an undesirable position for the Western countries, which is to work to get them out legally by firmly applying Lebanese laws,” he said.
“It is also important now, more than ever, to prioritize supporting local administrations, facilities, infrastructure, resources and public services exhausted by human pressure, in parallel with humanitarian aid for the neediest groups of displaced Syrian and Lebanese host communities,” he said.
“Over the past 11 years, Lebanon has borne an intolerable burden because of more than 1.7 million displaced Syrians and Palestinian refugees living throughout the country –i.e. in 97% of municipalities all over Lebanon.”
“I assure society that our current situation is radically different from what it was before because we are now going through one of the most severe economic, financial, social and political crises in the world,” he said.
85% of Lebanese at risk of poverty
“As a result, about 85% of Lebanese people now live below the poverty line, and about one-third of Lebanon’s population is now displaced and also poor,” he said.
“Eleven years after the start of the Syrian crisis, Lebanon no longer can bear all this burden, especially under the current circumstances,” he said.
“The Syrian crisis is not a natural crisis that can be addressed by normal means, so we reiterate the demand that the dignified return of Syrian displaced persons to their country must be achieved,” he said.
These statements are the first of their kind by the Lebanese government towards Syrian refugees, as they were limited to the Lebanese presidency and its affiliated figures.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.