The Cabinet agreed on a policy to stop the flow of Syrian refugees into Lebanon, Information Minister Ramzi Joreige announced after a session Thursday.
The Cabinet’s decision will “stop the flow of all Syrian refugees except those with an exceptional humanitarian case,” Joreige said. Also, the UN refugee agency will need an approval from the Ministry of Social Affairs before registering any Syrian national as a refugee.
The minister also said the government would encourage “refugees to return home or to go to any other country by all possible means.”
The plan also calls for dropping the refugee status of anyone who set foot on Syrian territory.
In addition to reducing the number of refugees, the new policy adds new security measures.
Municipalities will be tasked with regularly combing areas where refugees reside to document the change in their numbers. Municipal police will be provided the necessary equipment to maintain order, Joreige said.
Economically, the decision imposes greater measures to ensure the Lebanese citizen’s advantage in employment, and includes a plan to enhance the financing of some productive economic sectors.
Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas told reporters that the policy passed “smoothly” and that it is now the responsibility of the government, not his ministry, to implement it.
A controversial proposition to build Syrian refugee camps on Lebanese territory was totally scrapped, due to fears that such gathering spots could host fundamentalist groups or armed militias.
After agreeing on the refugee policy, the ministers discussed offers presented by two companies who provide fuel to Lebanon for electricity production. The companies, one Algerian and one Kuwaiti, had sent a previous offer that Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil rejected.