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Lebanon Receives Reassurances over Ban’s Call for Naturalization of Refugees | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Syrian refugees in Lebanon. AFP

Beirut-After largescale criticism of a report issued by U.N. chief Bank Ki-moon ahead of a conference next September on movements of refugees and migrants, several sides stressed that Lebanon, which hosts around 1.5 million displaced Syrians, should not be concerned.

“The Secretary-General has at no time called for the permanent settlement of Syrian refugees in Lebanon,” U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag said on Friday.

Ban “knows very well that the Lebanese constitution does not allow naturalization,” she said.

Her remarks came after Stephane Dujarric, Ban’s spokesperson, denied at a press conference he held in New York on Thursday the U.N. chief’s call for the naturalization of refugees in Lebanon.

Kaag stressed after meeting Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil that the problem of the refugees would only be resolved through a political settlement.

Bassil handed the diplomat a letter addressed to Ban, reiterating Lebanon’s rejection to the contents of his report.

The solution to the problem of the refugees should come through their quick and safe return home, the Foreign Minister  said in the letter.

U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Richard Jones also stressed after meeting Prime Minister Tammam Salam that “the preferable solution is for them (the refugees) to (voluntarily) return to their country as soon as conditions allow and if that becomes impossible, that they be taken for resettlement in other countries.”

Ban’s report said in one of its clauses that the refugees should be allowed to build their lives and plan for their future if their circumstances did not allow them to return home.

It also said that the countries hosting the refugees should grant them legal status and study when and how to give them the opportunity to become citizens through naturalization.

The Lebanese cabinet discussed the issue during a session on Thursday and tasked Lebanon’s Ambassador to the U.N. to follow up the mater.

Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas also said on Wednesday that Ban’s remarks on the naturalization of refuges are rejected.

“Lebanon rejects giving the nationality to anyone,” he said following the meeting of the ministerial committee tasked with following up refugee affairs.

Labor Minister Sejaan Qazzi also accused the U.N. secretary-general of preparing to launch a new war in Lebanon.

“We will fight it through the united patriotic stance,” he said.