Caritas Lebanon: repatriation of a few thousand Syrian refugees "a drop in the ocean"
About 1000 Syrians, including children, have long since returned to their villages and towns. But the emergency, which is also economic and social, remains. Fr. Paul: An independent body is needed to follow their return. Often they cross the border again without being registered. The Lebanese president attacks the Arab Spring: "Hell".
Beirut (AsiaNews) - The initiatives aimed at the return of Syrian refugees to Lebanon "are appreciated", but they are "a few hundred, at most thousands against a million and more, a drop in the ocean" of the emergency, says Caritas Lebanon president Fr. Paul Karam.
For over seven years the organization has been in the front line in helping Syrian families fleeing the war. In the past, the priest has repeatedly launched the danger of a serious economic, political and social crisis for the country, along with the abandonment of Syrian refugees "forgotten like the Lebanese". "To date - the priest continues - the problem has not been seriously addressed by the international community and no solutions can be seen on the horizon".
In recent days, dozens of Syrian refugees have crossed the Lebanese border to return to their country of origin. This is the last group of about a thousand people - among which there are also hundreds of children - who, in a short time, left the refugee camps to return to their homes and their villages of origin.
According to state television LBCI, at least 14 buses loaded with people crossed the border over the weekend, in the context of a repatriation operation coordinated by the general safety directorate. However, the return of several thousand refugees cannot ease the emergency that has been underway for some time in Lebanon, a nation of 4.5 million inhabitants that is home to - still today - almost 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Which are added to the 400 thousand Palestinian refugees already present in Lebanon.
Fr. Paul explains there is also a major underlying problem: "We no longer have any definite news - he explains - of those who cross the border, and who could return to Lebanon later with unofficial or registered entries. There is great concern along the border and more controls are needed ". There are not rare cases of refugees "who we believe returned to Syria, then we see them still here in Lebanon. We need a serious, targeted program that follows their path and allows them to rebuild their lives in their country of origin ".
"On what basis – warns the President Caritas Lebanon - do we base the return of refugees? We need a super partes organization present in Syria. We know that there are now safe areas, under the control of the government or local authorities. A political resolution of the Syrian conflict cannot be expected, the refugee emergency must be faced and resolved independently and independently. And this is the task of an international community "so far absent.
Meanwhile, over the weekend the Lebanese president addressed very harsh criticisms of the so-called "Arab Spring", the popular uprising movement that in 2011 touched various countries of the Middle East and North Africa, which in some cases – such as Syria - resulted in a proxy war among powers. "The Arab Spring - said Michel Aoun - was more of an Arab hell, due to the terrorism emergency and the suffering it caused".
"Syria - the Maronite leader continued - was considered the" beating heart "of the Arab revolt, but what did we do to this heart? If you are against a regime, you certainly cannot afford to kill the people. The Syrian people are the real victims of all this ". Aoun added that it is necessary to "write an end to conflicts" and "return to dialogue", which must be conducted "on respect for the common interests of nations", not with unilateral decisions.