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Government expresses grave concern as number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon rises

Irish Aid, Minister Joe Costello, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, Press Releases, Ireland, Middle East and North Africa, 2014

 

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore TD, has expressed his deep concern that the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has now surpassed one million people.

The Tánaiste said:

“Just one month after we marked the third anniversary of the start of the uprising in Syria, confirmation that the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon now represents one quarter of that country’s population marks another tragic milestone in this appalling conflict. The social and economic consequences of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon are staggering.

“Ireland has a long-standing relationship with Lebanon and has made a valuable contribution to its peace and security through the Defence Forces’ engagement in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). We will continue to call for an end to the ongoing violations of human rights and breaches of international law being committed by all parties to this appalling conflict.

“Only a negotiated political solution can bring an end to the horrendous suffering of the Syrian people. I urge all sides to accept the proposals of UN Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi for the renewal of fully inclusive peace talks within the Geneva II framework”.

As the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, the number of refugees in Lebanon – a country already hosting approximately 400,000 Palestinian refugees – has risen sharply, from 18,000 two years ago to one million today. Lebanon now hosts the world’s highest concentration of refugees per capita.

Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello, TD said:

“The statistics released by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) represent an increase of almost a quarter of a million people seeking refuge in Lebanon since I visited that country just six months ago. At that time, I was struck by the immense strain already being placed upon Lebanon’s social services and on host communities. Despite the great generosity being shown by the people of Lebanon, this continuing influx of desperate and traumatised refugees is stretching public services such as health, education, electricity and water beyond their capacities.

“This is why we have ensured that more than half of Ireland’s contribution to the humanitarian relief effort, which amounts to more than €20 million to date, has been allocated to assist refugees and host communities in neighbouring states. Syria’s neighbours cannot and should not have to shoulder the burden of hosting millions of refugees alone”.

 

ENDS

Press Office

4 April 2014