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Lebanon Launches Campaign to Support Areas Affected by Refugee Crisis | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In this picture taken on Sunday, February 19, 2017, Syrian refugee girls attend a basketball training session at a private sports club, southern Beirut (AP)

Beirut – The Lebanese government is setting up an infrastructure plan, which targets areas that are most affected by the Syrian refugee crisis and provides care to the Lebanese population, which is incurring heavy burdens due to the large influx of refugees since the beginning of the Syrian war in early 2011.

Lebanese Minister of State for Refugees Affairs Mouin al-Merhebi stressed the need to “provide special care and service for citizens and refugees, especially in regions where refugees outnumber Lebanese citizens.”

Speaking during a workshop on northern Bekaa development challenges, Merehbi noted: “The international community is ready to provide assistance in this respect.”

“However, we as a State, ought to have our plans ready and our priorities set, particularly since there are remote areas in the Bekaa and the North where large numbers of displaced Syrians are gathered, which requires the establishment of infrastructure and securing the necessary services,” he added.

Merhebi’s remarks coincided with a report recently issued by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which said that recent measures taken by the Lebanese authorities have made the majority of Syrian refugees lose their legal status, and hence became subject to social marginalization.

The report added that the Lebanese authorities were not “expecting this huge number of refugee inflow, and did not prepare appropriate studies to deal with the crisis, but instead enacted laws that further deteriorated the problem.”

SOHR report added that the Lebanese government has imposed very difficult conditions on refugees’ accommodation.

Merhebi said during the workshop: “Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri has clearly said that Lebanon has become a refugee camp.”

“Today, we are working upon his directions to set up a guidance plan for Lebanon’s infrastructure that would take into consideration priorities of areas that are affected by the refugee crisis by addressing their needs,” he added.

The minister called on the international community to “protect human rights and assist Lebanon in providing support to those who were forced to flee their homes due to destruction, genocide and war.”