Aoun to UN: guarantee a 'safe and permanent' return of Syrian refugees
Lebanese president goes against the trend at the General Assembly. The return of refugees must not be linked to a "political solution" that remains uncertain. The emergency has caused an economic, demographic and social collapse in the Land of the Cedars. Attack on the United States for the decision to transfer the embassy to Jerusalem.
New York (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Lebanese President Michel Aoun stood out in his speech to global leaders yesterday gathered at the UN General Assembly in New York. Not only was it against current trends, it was also highly critical of the policies adopted by the world powers in the Middle East that have fueled wars and conflicts, at the same time triggering some of the worst humanitarian crises of recent decades, such as the Syrian refugee emergency.
He also demanded the international community take charge of the refugee issue [Syrians and Palestinians], which threatens to sink the Land of the Cedars.
Without first mentioning the United States and President Donald Trump, the head of state confirmed the position of Lebanon against "settlements" and the subsequent stabilization of migrants and refugees. On the other hand, he invoked a "decent, secure and permanent return" to the homeland of those who have left Syria because of the war. Their return, he adds, should not be linked to a "political solution" that, at the moment, still appears "uncertain".
"The considerable number [of displaced Syrians] - underlined Aoun – has had serious repercussions on Lebanese society at several levels: security, with an increase in crime rates of over 30%; economic, with a figure on unemployment that reaches 21%; demographic, with a population density per square kilometer that today varies from 400 up to 600 ".
The president emphasized the "limited resources" of the country and the scarce help received from the international community in recent years; added to this is Washington's recent decision to cut funding to the UN agency for the relief and employment of Palestinian refugees (Unrwa), many of which are located in Lebanon.
"We will not be able to carry this burden for much longer, while most of the regions where Syrian migrants come from can be considered safe today". Finally, Aoun clarifies that he always wanted a "safe return" for Syrian refugees, which is very different from "voluntary return".
The problem of refugees was also addressed in recent days by the Maronite Patriarch Card. Beshara Raï in the context of the official visit to Canada. The cardinal called the one and a half million refugees - out of a total of just over four million inhabitants - an "unsustainable burden" that threatens to bury the country. Hence the appeal of Aoun to the United Nations for a "safe and permanent return" of migrants "in their land" and to reject the "political and diplomatic" merchant-robbing that is being done on their skin.
Touching the Palestinian question and refugees in Lebanon, Aoun condemned "approaches to international politics towards the Middle East", which are "crudely" lacking the sense of "justice". These approaches, he underlined, "say one thing and do its exact opposite, sowing doubt among the peoples of the region".
"The Palestinian cause - he warned - illustrates this situation perfectly" and the sense of "impunity" that has characterized it "caused many wars in the Middle East and triggered a resistance that will not end until the iniquities are eliminated".
Re-launching the Lebanese model as an example of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, Aoun finally condemned [even without naming the United States] recent decisions that concerned "the transfer of some embassies to Jerusalem" and the proclamation of the city as the capital of Israel . Decisions that have caused serious consequences and that were taken despite the UN General Assembly voting against it.