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Lebanon: Maronite Bishops Urge Repatriation of Syrian Refugees

Cannot Wait for Political Solution to Conflict

Lebanon “can no longer carry the weight of Syrian refugees,” and therefore it is necessary to “dissociate the political solution of the conflict in Syria from the necessary return of the displaced to their homes.” This urgent matter was underlined once again by the Maronite Bishops on the occasion of their latest monthly assembly, hosted on December 6, 2018, by the Patriarchal See of Bkerké. The Maronite Bishops insist that the repatriation of Syrian refugees must be started without waiting for a complete political solution to the conflict that has tormented Syria since 2011, according to Fides News Agency on December 10, 2018.

On November 30, 2018, the Lebanese foreign minister Gebran Bassil had a meeting in the Vatican with Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for relations with states of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, for clarification and reassurance regarding the position of the Holy See on the question of the repatriation of Syrian refugees who have found shelter in Lebanon. During the meeting the Lebanese minster explained to Archbishop Gallagher the serious reasons for which Lebanon cannot continue to bear for much longer the economic and security weight of the emergency connected also with the presence on Lebanese territory of more than one million Syrian refugees.

“Lebanon asks simply that no obstacle will prevent the safe return of those refugees wishing to return,” said Gebran Bassil in a statement issued following the meeting with Archbishop Gallagher.

Before the meeting between the Lebanese minister and the high ranking Vatican official, certain considerations attributed to Archbishop Gallagher had drawn comments from the Lebanese media according to which the present situation in Syria could render impracticable the albeit desired repatriation of Syrian refugees

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