General Security head Abbas Ibrahim said he supported the voluntary and safe return of Syrian refugees without waiting for a political solution to the conflict there, in remarks published Thursday by local daily Al-Akhbar.
“The political dispute surrounding the refugee issue is not my concern, because my job is purely technical,” Ibrahim said.
He added that there were two prevailing opinions on refugee returns: one that pushed for refugees to return to safe areas in Syria even if it wasn’t voluntary, and another that called for voluntary returns tied to a political solution in Syria. The General Security chief said he supported returns that were both voluntary and safe.
“I use the term voluntary return ... that is exclusive to a voluntary, safe return, but not associated with a political solution,” Ibrahim said.
Lebanese politicians are at odds over the contentious issue of refugee returns and Lebanon’s ties with Syria.
Hezbollah and its allies, including the Free Patriotic Movement, support normalizing ties with the Syrian regime, while the Future Movement, the Lebanese Forces and the Progressive Socialist Party are formally against any normalized ties until a political solution to the Syrian conflict is reached.
President Michel Aoun, who founded the FPM, and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, the party’s leader, have stated on multiple occasions that refugees should return to safe areas in Syria without waiting for a political solution to the conflict there.
General Security announced Wednesday that 172,046 Syrian refugees have returned to their country from Lebanon since December 2017.
The agency has since May 2018 been facilitating voluntary return trips for refugees wanting to go back to their country.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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