Criticism as Bassil Calls to Freeze UNHCR Residency Permits
Calls of caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil to freeze the renewal of residency permits for the staff of the United Nations refugee agency were criticized on Saturday as a “threat to Lebanon’s ties with international bodies.”
“The Foreign Minister is acting as if the State is declaring a war of abolition against international organizations,” said caretaker Minister Marwan Hamadeh.
“Bassil is not taking the local repercussions, Lebanon’s reputation and the expected losses into account shall the refugees stay in Lebanon and the aid is cut off,” he added.
Hamadeh said Bassil “is launching a new policy towards the return of displaced Syrians and international organizations as if there is no government, no new parliament and no agreed criteria between the government and the committee tasked with the file,” he added.
For his part, ex-Minister Rachid Derbas said that “enmity with the United Nations does not serve the country.
“Positions from the international community is a public policy adopted by the government, not by a single minister, even if he proves right. Lebanon has many interests with the United Nations starting with the UNIFIL forces,” he noted.
On Friday, caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil ordered a freeze on the renewal of residency permits for the staff of the United Nations refugee agency, saying it is not encouraging Syrian refugees to return home.
Bassil said in a statement from his office that UNHCR is scaring Syrian refugees in Lebanon from returning by asking them about compulsory military service, security conditions and whether they have a place to live.