Lebanon: Maronite Bishops Call for the Departure of Syrian Refugees

Source: FSSPX News

On estime à 1,5 million le nombre de réfugiés syriens au Liban.

The Maronite bishops have made an unambiguous appeal to the Lebanese and international authorities. They wish for “the return of the Syrian refugees to their homeland.” According to a communiqué (excerpts from which were reprinted by the Lebanese daily newspaper L’Orient-Le Jour on November 1, 2017), the prelates think that the refugees have become “a heavy burden” for the country.

The bishops also explained that “every day that passes without a solution for a safe return of the refugees attacks their dignity and the future of their country.” They therefore call for the Lebanese government and the international community to “spare no effort to speed the return of the Syrian refugees to their homeland” so that they can “help to rebuild their own country.” They go on to explain: “If this crisis continues, a whole generation runs the risk of being born without a national identity.”

An Unsustainable Situation

On October 2, 2017, the Vatican news agency Fides recalled that Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, during his pastoral visit in the valley of Beqaa in late September, declared that the presence of masses of Syrian refugees in Lebanon created “an unsustainable situation” that could be resolved only by promoting “the repatriation of the Syrian refugees by all means”.

Fides also emphasized that the growing involvement of refugees in a number of crimes and offenses committed in the host country fuels “the impatience of the Lebanese population with the Syrian refugees”. The Maronite bishops see in this “a serious sign of ingratitude for the hospitality that they have received”, especially since they cause further increase in “the widespread hostility toward all innocent Syrians” who have been forced to “abandon their land to flee the violence, finding refuge in a country where their lives and their dignity were protected”.

The Lebanese Ministry of the Economy, Raëd Khoury, stated on October 21 of this year that the Syrian crisis has cost the Lebanese economy 18 billion dollars since it started in 2011 and that the displaced Syrians in Lebanon now make up 40% of the population. During a press conference reported by L’Orient-Le Jour, he deplored the fact that “the unemployment rate has hit 30%. Poverty has increased by 53% in Northern Lebanon, 48% in Southern Lebanon, and 30% in on the plain of Beqaa,” he added. He concluded that “the economic situation can no longer hold out; this indicators do not deceive.” The minister then saluted the municipalities that have taken measures with regard to the displaced Syrians, particularly to close the businesses that they run illegally, or to take a census of them. He recalled that only jobs in construction work, agriculture and trash collection are authorized by law for Syrian employees.