President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, strongly emphasized Lebanon’s stance against any settlement of refugees or displaced on its lands.
“Lebanon will not allow the settlement of any refugee or displaced on its territories, and the decision in this regards solely belongs to us,” stressed Aoun, addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday.
The President briefed the Assembly on the many difficulties and challenges facing Lebanon as a host country to huge numbers of displaced Syrians seeking refuge on its lands.
“The need has become urgent to organize the return of the displaced, after the situation has stabilized in most parts of their first homeland,” Aoun underscored.
“There are those who refer to a voluntary return of refugees, while we refer to a safe return, distinguishing between the two, and the meetings of the group of states supporting Syria (ISSG) has confirmed that,” he added.
“Collective asylum in its current form in Lebanon has happened for security or economic reasons, and to escape the dangers of war; hence, we call it displacement and not asylum. Furthermore, it was not coupled with the acceptance of the State nor was it individual, but rather occurred in the form of a population invasion,” explained Aoun.
The President refused, herein, all claims that refugees will not be safe if they return home, considering it an “unacceptable argument,” since approximately 85% of the Syrian territories are now in the custody of the State.
Touching on the issue of terrorism, President Aoun stated that Lebanon has succeeded in confronting terrorism that set fire to many countries in the region, and has managed to preserve its national unity despite all the severe political divisions that existed.
“Our army recently fought its final battle along our border with Syria, achieving a great victory over the terrorist organizations of “Daesh” and “Nusra” and their branches, and thus, ending their military presence in Lebanon,” Aoun proudly stated.
He also pointed to the Israeli aggression against Lebanon, noting that “Israeli wars proved that military tanks and warplanes do not bring by solutions or peace.”
“There is no peace without justice, and no justice except with respect for rights,” Aoun strongly emphasized.
On the other hand, the President referred to the need for any solution to be accompanied by economic and social measures to achieve growth and improve the social conditions of people in the region, providing them with a decent and stable life. He highlighted the need for seriously considering the project of establishing a joint economic market to ensure a prosperous living within liberty.
Aoun concluded by stressing that “the role of Lebanon, and indeed its mission, is in the war on the ideology of terrorism,” while nominating Lebanon for becoming “a permanent center for dialogue between different civilizations, religions and races, as a United Nations institution.”