ARSAL: A public spat between the Lebanese government and the UN refugee agency deepened on Wednesday as Lebanon’s caretaker foreign minister kept up his criticism, accusing the agency of discouraging Syrian refugees from returning home.
“It’s time to tell them enough. That’s it,” Gibran Bassil said, adding that Lebanon’s economy is collapsing and that no other country in the world has been as accommodating and offered as much concessions.
Lebanon is home to more than a million Syrian refugees, or about a quarter of the country’s population, putting a huge strain on the economy.
The hospitality shown by the tiny, politically and economically fragile country has won praise from international leaders, UN officials and donor countries. But sentiments against refugees have been increasing amid political divisions and an economic crunch, especially after groups calling for their return made major gains in last month’s parliamentary elections.