During a speech made Monday night, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations, Lebanese President Michel Aoun urged the world to assist Lebanon in the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland.
The event was conducted through online means, as the 75th session of the UN General Assembly in New York was held in part remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Aoun urged it “to assist in the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland as the explosions of Beirut’s port left 300,000 citizens homeless and Lebanon already suffers from several issues and problems.”
He pointed out that, since 2011, Lebanon had taken in huge numbers of Syrian refugees, which has had adverse effects on the country’s economy, security, and social fabric.
From her side, Carmela Godeau, Regional Director of the IOM MENA, conveyed the condolences for the victims of the Beirut Port explosion to President Aoun.
She stated that the organization intends to undertake procedures to help those affected, in coordination with the Lebanese state and UN organizations.
These procedures include the launching of an urgent appeal to help 50,000 affected individuals in Lebanon and requesting financial assistance worth $10.3 million.
Godeau discussed the organization’s numerical results in transferring Syrian refugees to other countries. Approximately 120,000 Syrians were sent to foreign countries and there exist 3,000 applications by Syrian refugees asking to be naturalized in foreign countries.
According to the UN Refugee Agency in Lebanon, more than 1 million Syrian refugees are living in Lebanon, having fled the socio-political crisis in their homeland.
“The small Middle Eastern nation is one of the world’s largest refugee hosts by share of the total population, with more than 900,000 registered refugees from Syria and other countries, in addition to Palestinian refugees, out of a total population of less than 7 million,” states UNHCR.
However, the Lebanese government estimates the true number of Syrian refugees alone at 1.5 million.
Aoun thanked the UN for addressing the severe repercussions of the Beirut blast and aiding in the recovery from its economic and financial crisis.
“Lebanon, in the middle of the many crises afflicted upon it, found in the UN an element of support for stability through the UNIFIL forces, and a partner for development through its agencies working in my country,” Aoun said.
The Lebanese president also made sure to reaffirm Lebanon’s commitment to the UN principles and goals it aspires to.
“Difficulties will not prevent Lebanon from pursuing its positive role at the international level and its constructive interactions with the UN and within the international community,” he stated.