Beirut – Hezbollah Secretary-General Hasan Nasrallah urged the Lebanese government to coordinate with Syrian regime to help refugees to return now that large areas of the country are safe and calm now.
During a televised speech at the memorial of one of Hezbollah’s Central Council member, Nasrallah said it is necessary to cooperate so that most of the refugees go back to their country, cities and villages.
He added that it is the duty of all Lebanese to deal with this issue in a humanitarian fashion, setting aside political considerations or fears.
“The Lebanese government … should decide and seriously study how to make an official decision and institute a discussion with the Syrian government; there are a million and a half or 2 million refugees in Lebanon. How will we handle this issue?” Nasrallah said.
Nasrallah stressed that this is a matter that Lebanon cannot resolve on its own.
He added that Hezbollah would help the government in whatever capacity it can if called upon to do so.
“We as Hezbollah are ready to be at the service of the Lebanese government if it decided to act in a humanitarian and patriotic way in the refugee issue and we are ready to place ourselves at their disposal,” he explained.
In 2005, former Lebanese premier Rafiq al-Hariri was assassinated which caused tension in the relations between the two countries. Hariri’s son current Lebanese PM Saad al-Hariri accused Damascus of involvement in the 2005 assassination of his father.
Earlier this month, Lebanese President Michel Aoun called for more international assistance and urged the international community to facilitate the safe return of refugees.
At the end of January, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem also “renewed the invitation of the government to Syrian refugees living in neighboring countries to return”. He stressed the country was ready to receive them and grant them a dignified life.
Lebanon is currently hosting 1.03 million Syrians registered with the UNHCR, though the Lebanese government estimates the number closer to 1.5 million.