In a statement that has raised significant concerns since the arrival of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, General Joseph Aoun, the commander of the Lebanese army, discussed the challenges posed by border smuggling and emphasized the need to enforce the law more effectively. He did not explicitly call for the killing of Syrian refugees. Instead, he outlined the army’s strategy to address this issue within legal boundaries.
Aoun stated in remarks reported by Lebanese media: “Smuggling across the border has become an existential threat, and we can no longer ignore it. We may need to engage with these issues more proactively or instruct the army to take necessary actions to deter illegal activities, thus ensuring that we have legal grounds to address the situation.”
Do what you want and don’t pay attention to the law
The Lebanese Minister of Culture, Mohammed Wissam al-Murtada, expressed his support for General Aoun’s position, urging decisive action without being overly concerned about strict adherence to the law. Meanwhile, Judge Mahmoud Makiya, the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, suggested an alternative approach. He recommended declaring a state of emergency in the border areas to facilitate the necessary measures, allowing the army to effectively manage border crossings while respecting legal procedures.
Restrictions on Syrians in Lebanon
In the context of addressing the situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the Council of Ministers convened on Monday under the leadership of Prime Minister Najib Mikati to deliberate on imposing additional restrictions in various aspects. These measures are framed under the initiative titled “Managing the Refugee Situation and Establishing a Comprehensive Database.”
Concurrently, the Council decided to establish a ministerial delegation, led by Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib, to visit Syria and oversee matters concerning displaced individuals. This delegation will comprise the Secretary-General of the Supreme Defense Council and the Director-General of General Security, and their mission is part of a broader set of decisions and actions endorsed during the Monday meeting.
Regarding security concerns, the Council urged municipalities to promptly report any suspicious activities or gatherings associated with Syrian refugees, particularly in relation to human trafficking within their jurisdictions. Furthermore, it called for an immediate census of Syrian refugees residing within municipal areas.
The Council also emphasized the need to rectify what it termed as “infractions” and violations on public utilities such as electricity, water, and sewage in the areas where displaced Syrians reside. These issues will be addressed by enforcing traffic regulations and cracking down on unlicensed businesses operated by Syrians within municipal boundaries, with an emphasis on immediate closure and legal action against violators.
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.