On Thursday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, revealed that the UNHCR is working with the Syrian regime to remove “serious obstacles” that prevent refugees from returning to their country.
This came after a meeting that Grandi held with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati in the capital, Beirut, according to a statement by the prime minister’s office.
According to the statement, Grandi indicated that “most people want to return, but many obstacles must be overcome, and we will continue to work on them.”
Some of the obstacles are “the destroyed equipment and houses, and the very difficult economic situation,” according to Grandi.
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He also expressed his “full appreciation for the enormous challenges that Lebanon is experiencing at this time.”
He pointed out that “hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrians and other refugees is a very pressing responsibility for Lebanon.”
In turn, Miqati renewed his call on the international community to “solve the Syrian refugee crisis” in his country, in coordination with the Lebanese government, stressing that “this file should not remain a card that puts pressure on the Lebanese reality.”
Mikati pointed out that “Lebanon no longer has the financial, service and political capacity to bear the repercussions of the refugee file.”
At this stage, “the priority is to return the displaced Syrians successively to their country after the situation in Syria stabilizes,” according to what the statement quoted Mikati.
Last October, the Director General of the Lebanese General Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, revealed that “there are currently two million and 80,000 displaced Syrians in Lebanon, and that nearly 540,000 Syrians have voluntarily returned to their country since 2017.”
Months ago, the Lebanese government drew up a plan to return 15,000 refugees to Syria every month, in a “necessary” measure due to the suffocating economic and living crisis that has afflicted Lebanon since 2019.
However, the plan collided with the rejection of the United Nations, which believes that security has not yet been established in Syria, and asks Lebanon to wait for the time being.