Lebanese Leaders Divided On How To Handle Syrian Refugees

Middle East

The complex internal dynamics between Lebanese parties and their relationships with the Syrian regime have made it difficult to reach a common agreement on the issue of Syrian refugees.

Lebanon’s ruling parties remain divided about the future of Syrians in the country, with over one million refugees currently residing in Lebanon. This matter has caused major division within the Lebanese Government, which was recently formed after several reconciliation attempts were made.

The parties in the government have formed two camps, each with their solution for the refugee crisis.

Parties such as Hezbollah, which is allied with the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) headed by Lebanese President Michel Aoun, said that to facilitate the return of Syrian Refugees, the Lebanese Government must communicate with the Syrian Regime.

“The most appropriate and necessary solution is an agreement between two states, the Lebanese state and the Syrian state, to schedule and assist the return of displaced Syrians,” said Nawwar al-Sahili, a Member of Parliament (MP) for Hezbollah and the head of the Syrian Refugee Affairs Committee.

However, this solution is rejected by parties in the other camp who say that the Syrian Regime is unable to provide a secure and safe return for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

These parties, which include the Future Movement, the Lebanese Forces Party and the Socialist Party, accuse Hezbollah and the FPM of politicising the issue and using the media to pressure the Government into communicating with the Syrian Regime.

“Lebanon’s commitment to the international community and respecting the principles of the relationship with friendly countries is an issue that cannot be subject to perseverance, interpretation and media excitement, especially if it is aimed at finding practical mechanisms for a radical solution to the refugee crisis,” said Henry Shadid, an MP for the Future Movement.

While a political solution has not yet been proposed, the Lebanese security apparatus is still facilitating the voluntary return of thousands of Syrians back to their country.

According to figures issued by the security officials, over 170,000 Syrians have voluntary returned as of May 2018. While some have faced problems after their return, their stay in Lebanon has turned public opinion against them, leaving many feeling marginalised in society.