Lebanon’s caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi warned on Saturday that Syrian refugees “have become a threat to Lebanon’s demographics and identity.”
It is no longer acceptable for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to continue to handle this file in total disregard of the Lebanese state and laws, he declared during a conference in Beirut.
The Syrian refugee crisis “has become unbearable,” he added, saying his ministry and the government were carrying out their duties towards them.
However, the UNHCR “can no longer continue with its approach in this file,” he remarked.
He criticized the agency for not coordinating its work with the state and for failing to hand over data related to the refugees to the General Security directorate.
“How do you expect us to protect the refugees if we don’t have data on them?” wondered Mawlawi.
“This is unacceptable and we, along with the government, will no longer tolerate this,” he stated.
The government has been demanding data on the displaced so that it can drop the refugee status of anyone who returns to Syria.
Mawlawi praised several municipalities, specifically those in Beirut, Tripoli, Sin al-Fil, al-Ghobeiry and al-Dekwaneh, for taking preemptive steps in controlling the number of Syrian refugees and holding them accountable before the law.
“The refugee problem is major, and we must approach it according to our keenness on Lebanon’s existence, interests and laws,” he demanded.
“The law must be applied equally on the Syrians and the Lebanese people,” he urged, while calling on the international community to come up with a clear plan that would ensure their return home.