“The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon is around 1.3 million, while the number of refugees returning to Syria is at 50 thousand,” said Lebanon’s General Security Chief, Major General Abbas Ibrahim.
In an interview with the Kuwaiti news agency “KUNA”, Ibrahim stressed that “the Lebanese General Security has played a key role in the issue of Syrian refugees in Lebanon in its capacity as the official body responsible for the movement of incomers and outgoers to and from the country, as well as the responsible for the foreigners residing here, owning data and information about them all, including Syrian refugees.”
“The General Security has also worked intensively, since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, on the issue of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and was the only channel of coordination with the Syrian security services due to the security conditions at the time. For these reasons, Lebanese President Michel Aoun has decided that General Security should be the party to coordinate with the Syrian side on the issue of the return of refugees,” said Ibrahim.
Pertaining to the Russian initiative to secure the repatriation of Syrian refugees, Ibrahim said “the Lebanese General Security is a key partner in this initiative and in direct contact with those concerned with the refugee file. It is too soon, however, to talk about a timeline for the implementation of the said initiative as the work plan with the Russian side has not yet been finalized.”
Asked about the possibility of the Russian initiative not receiving the international funding necessary for its implementation, he replied: “In all cases, work is being carried out in Lebanon to secure the voluntary return of displaced persons. We have opened 17 centers in different regions of Lebanon to receive requests for refugees wishing to return. (…) The number of Syrians wanting to return [to their homeland] is starting to rise significantly.”
Answering a question, Ibrahim said “We have indeed opened several channels of communication between European countries and Syria, upon the request of the Syrian authorities. This is all I can say.”
“Kuwait has always been a supporter of security and stability in Lebanon and has helped the country overcome all the crises that have afflicted it,” the General Security Chief affirmed, praising the “wisdom of the Kuwaiti political leadership led by His Highness, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and the love of the Kuwaiti people for Lebanon and its people.
Questioned about the internal security situation in Lebanon, Ibrahim said “we cannot describe the situation as 100 percent under control, but there is no doubt that it is much better than the previous years in Lebanon. Nevertheless, work has never stopped in terms of combating terrorism either by pursuing or dismantling terrorism networks, since no terrorist act can be totally ruled out.”