Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Tuesday that the solution to the Syrian refugee issue in the country is returning to Syria while the UN adhered to its conviction that this return must be voluntary.
“They (the UN) are our partners in helping us resolve the refugees’ issue. The final solution is their return home. This is what we concluded,” Hariri said while receiving UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator in Lebanon Philippe Lazzarini UNHCR representative in Lebanon Mireille Girard.
Lebanon estimates there are 1.5 million Syrian refugees in the country while the UNHCR says those registered with it are less than 1 million.
Commenting on the meeting with Hariri, Lazzarini said it was a fruitful and constructive meeting, adding that he reiterated the UN’s strong partnership with Lebanon in responding to the Syrian refugees’ crisis.
“We’ve always confirmed that the refugees’ return to Syria or resettlement in a third country are the only two permanent solutions,” he said, adding that he UN respects the Syrians’ personal decision to return home and will never obstruct any of them from returning.
Earlier in June, caretaker foreign minister Gebran Bassil ordered a freeze on residency applications submitted by staff of the UNHCR, accusing it of hindering the return of Syrian refugees by “spreading fear.”
Hariri: Solution to Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon is returning to Syria