The Lebanese Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister, Gebran Bassil, visited on Wednesday the town of Arsal for a meeting with a number of committees representing refugees who have willfully decided to return to their homeland.
“Our visit to Arsal comes in the wake of the conflict that has taken place between Lebanon and the international community over the Syrian refugee dossier,” Bassil said during a meeting with the Syrian refugees’ committees, stressing Lebanon’s keenness on ensuring a safe and dignified return of refugees to Syria.
“There are those who want the Syrian refugee crisis to persist and there are those who wish to end it,” Bassil added, explaining that Lebanon would never opt for an immediate and coercive return, but rather a gradual and secure one.
“The problem is that they are not allowing us to complete the first stage of this process,” the Minister added in reference to the international community. “We want to help the United Nations, but in securing a safe return of refugees,” he added.
“The people of the south had set up tents near their destroyed homes during the reconstruction phase after the war, and the Syrian people can do the same,” Bassil maintained, concluding that Lebanon did want any conflict with the UNHCR, “but it is time to tell them ‘enough’ and that nothing is above Lebanon’s interests.”