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Lebanon: more solidarity to deal with an ‘unsustainable’ refugee crisis

“The refugee crisis is becoming unsustainable for Lebanon. Greater solidarity is needed,” the PACE Political Affairs Committee said today. It added that the international community should step up “as a matter of urgency, its contribution to support and assist the refugees presently in Lebanon”. States should, on the one hand, increase their financial support for the humanitarian response on the spot and, on the other hand, increase resettlement possibilities for those refugees who so wished.

In adopting a draft resolution on the situation in Lebanon, based on the report by Tobias Zech (Germany, EPP/CD), the parliamentarians said that over the last five years the situation of refugees has worsened and today Lebanon hosts an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees. “This number adds to the many refugees were already there making Lebanon the country with the highest number of refugees per capita in the world”.

The adopted text also underlines the fact that, although surrounded by conflicts, “the oldest democracy in the Middle East” is a good example of peaceful co-existence and “should be supported in continuing to do so”.

The committee welcomed “the election of Michel Aoun as President after the longest presidential void in Lebanon's history”, thereby putting “an end to a constitutional crisis which posed a serious threat to the fragile balances on which the functioning of the Lebanese society is based”. This election does not however guarantee that “the other problems of the country will be solved”. “It also brings new challenges: the formation of the government by the new Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and over all, political reconciliation among the different interest groups”.

The parliamentarians said they would like to see the PACE “develop relations with the Lebanese Parliament, first by inviting Lebanese parliamentarians to follow its the work and then by “encouraging the Lebanese Parliament to consider applying for Partnership for Democracy status with the Assembly”.