Lebanon to seek UN aid for Syrian refugees
A Syrian widow eats dinner with her children at a refugee camp in Lebanon (AFP)
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The increasing burdens caused by the soaring number of Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict in their country to Lebanon prompted the Lebanese state to prepare for a conference in cooperation with the U.N. refugees agency that aims at helping the country to confront the crisis.
Caretaker Social Affairs Minister Wael Abou Faour said in comments published in As Safir newspaper on Tuesday that the conference seeks to differentiate between those who are refugees and those who are not.
The conference will be held in September, Abou Faour pointed out.
President Michel Suleiman, who will be accompanied by Abou Faour and caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, are expected to attend the conference that will be held on the sideline of the 68th regular session of the U.N. General Assembly.
Sources said that the dilemma facing Lebanon at the conference would be the international community and donor countries insistence to establish a trust fund to manage the financial assistance received to confront the mounting Syrian refugees crisis, which would be managed by the World Bank or the International Monitory Fund.
Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told As Safir that the refugees crisis requires “exceptional measures.”
Sources pointed out the the number of refugees Lebanon is around 1,200,000, which is expected to reach around 2 million by the end of the year.
The increasing number of Syrian refugees alongside a population of just four million has sparked mounting friction.
Many Syrian refugees are forced to sleep rough on the streets because they can not afford to rent somewhere to live.
A recent opinion poll found that 54 percent of respondents believed Lebanon should close its doors to the refugees. A full 82 percent said that the refugees were stealing jobs from Lebanese.
The conflict that erupted in Syria in March 2011 has spilled over the border into Lebanon where supporters and opponents of the Damascus regime have clashed frequently.