Lebanese Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas says the almost four-year-long conflict in neighboring Syria has cost his country more than USD 20 billion (16 billion euros).
"Several factors brought on by the Syria crisis have caused a loss of more than USD 20 billion," Derbas added.
"Because of this, infrastructure planned to last for 15 years will now have to be changed in just two because of intensive use" due to the presence of 1.1 million refugees from Syria, he added.
The Lebanese minister further pointed to the use of energy resources, primarily electricity, by Syrian refugees taking shelter in Lebanon, who are unable to pay for the services, adding, that Lebanon’s tourism industry has been also badly affected by the ongoing Syria crisis, having lost some 500,000 tourists who used to arrive overland via Syria.
The top Lebanese official also criticized the international community for not fulfilling their pledges of assisting the Beirut government with the influx of Syrian refugees.
More than 1.1 million Syrian refugees are currently taking shelter in Lebanon. The influx of Syrian refugees is exerting huge pressure on Lebanon's poor infrastructure, education and health systems.
On October 18, Derbas said his country "no longer officially receives any displaced Syrians" except those with urgent humanitarian reasons.
Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. Western powers and their regional allies - especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey - are the main supporters of the militants operating inside Syria.
More than 200,000 people have died so far in the conflict in Syria, according to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein.
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