Assad-allied Lebanese PM warns of Lebanon’s “total collapse”, blaming “Syrian displacement crisis”

Dec 13, 2023

Assad-allied Lebanese PM warns of Lebanon’s “total collapse”, blaming “Syrian displacement crisis”

Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister has warned that the country is “on the brink of total collapse”, blaming what he called the “Syrian displacement crisis”.
Speaking at the UN’s annual Global Refugee Forum currently taking place in Switzerland, Najib Mikati, a longtime ally of Bashar al-Assad’s, signally failed to mention the reasons behind millions of refugees fleeing Syria, namely the ongoing genocidal war waged by Assad’s regime, Russia and Iran against the Syrian people wanting freedom.

In his speech at the event, Mikati called on the world to address the “Syrian displacement crisis” in Lebanon, emphasizing the urgency of the issue as a top priority.

Mikati told the delegates, "Our meeting today takes place amidst profound sorrow and distress, at witnessing the ongoing humanitarian crisis faced by the Palestinian people in Gaza, threatened with displacement. This places us in a dual challenge: practically addressing the Syrian displacement issue ongoing since 2011 and dealing with the unfolding situation in Gaza."

He continued by stressing the necessity of action to halt the deliberate killing and destruction in Gaza, acknowledging the support of 153 countries in yesterday's United Nations General Assembly resolution to protect civilians and cease hostilities in Gaza.

Mikati reaffirmed Lebanon's steadfast support for the Palestinian people's right to self-determination. He urged immediate measures from the international community to stop violence, protect civilians, ensure a fair and lasting solution respecting Palestinian rights, aspirations, and guaranteeing the right of return for Palestinian refugees under international law.

Addressing Lebanon's history of hosting Palestinian refugees and the immense sacrifices made to defend the Palestinian cause, Mikati highlighted the country's limited resources and called for prioritizing the resolution of the conflict as the key to addressing the region's crises.

In light of Assad’s ongoing war and its direct impact on Lebanon, currently hosting over 1.5 million Syrian refugees, Mikati emphasized the multifaceted challenges beyond economic and social aspects, which he said affect communal security and demographic balance, resulting (he claimed) in increased crime rates, and prison overcrowding, surpassing Lebanon's capacity to endure.

Mikati expressed concern over new waves of Syrian displacement through what he called illegal channels, claiming that people are fleeing Syria for primarily economic reasons. Mikati stressed the need to prevent “unjustified mass migration”, saying that this threatens Lebanon's sovereignty and Lebanese society's fabric.

He called upon the international community to focus on facilitating the return of refugees to stable areas in Syria, though he didn’t specify what these are, and to provide aid to Syrians in their homeland. Mikati also proposed what MTV Lebanon called a ‘comprehensive plan to tackle the root causes of the Syrian crisis, ensure safe and voluntary refugee returns, and prioritize support and reintegration of Syrian refugees within Syria’, apparently in coordination with the Assad regime.

Regarding Lebanon's economic burdens due to the recent influx of Syrian refugees, Mikati suggested a scientific classification distinguishing between Syrian workers and displaced persons, creating a national mechanism to determine the legal status of each Syrian displaced person in Lebanon, ensuring private sector employment conditions that reduce competition with Lebanese professionals. Tellingly, Mikati did not use the word refugee in reference to Syrian refugees.

The Assad-allied Lebanese PM concluded by urging global cooperation to resolve the refugee crisis, asserting Lebanon's right to seek assistance in addressing this imminent collapse. He emphasized Lebanon's determination to protect its homeland and its people's right to live with dignity and pride.

It’s notable that no refugees are invited to attend or address the ‘Global Refugee Forum’.