BEIRUT — In its meeting Thursday, Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee discussed Lebanese citizens detained — specifically in France and elsewhere in the Arab region — raising “the idea of establishing a network” to determine their fate and the reasons behind their detention, MP Fadi Alameh told L’Orient Today.
Here’s what we know:
• According to Alameh, the families of Lebanese citizens detained overseas for extended periods have been relentlessly pushing to ascertain the condition of their relatives. This is not a new issue, the MP added, but the situation has reached a “dangerous phase” because the Lebanese state hasn’t known the detainees’ details for some time.
• Alameh added that the committee asked caretaker Foreign Minister, Abdallah Bou Habib, who was present Thursday, to open channels with concerned diplomats.
• The MP said it is important for the Lebanese state to know the condition of their nationals and that Lebanon is “interested in international standards in dealing with the matter.”
• Alameh said that the numbers of Lebanese detainees abroad are occasionally increasing, according to the state-run National News Agency, adding that Bou Habib has promised to follow up on this issue.
• A number of other matters were discussed during the committee meeting, including the issue of Syrian refugees. According to the NNA, Alameh said there is consensus among most of the Lebanese parties that “it is necessary to coordinate with Syria for the return of the displaced [Syrians].”
• The Amal-affiliated MP added that, according to figures presented by Bou Habib, “Syrian refugees cost Lebanon three billion dollars annually,” which means that for the past 10 years, Syrian refugees have cost the country “the equivalent of 30 billion dollars.”
• Social Affairs Minister Hector Hajjar said on June 20 that he plans to launch a strategy for the return of refugees, while Prime Minister Najib Mikati threatened to step up deportations if the international community does not assist in repatriating refugees. Hajjar announced this news at the launch of a campaign to raise $3.2 billion in additional international funding to address the impact of the Syrian conflict on Lebanon.
• A flurry of reports were released in 2021 by rights groups, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, maintaining that Syria is “unsafe for return” and detailing the abuses Syrians risk upon returning to their country. The reports have corroborated that, while there has been a decline in military conflict, “arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and ill-treatment, involuntary or enforced disappearances, rape, and death” are still common in Syria.
• With regard to Lebanese passports, the committee announced in its meeting that there is a “crisis.” Alameh said that the previous parliament had proposed legislation to finance passport services, but didn’t specify whether it was enacted or not. Bou Habib said the funds had been provided, and General Security has ordered new passports in sufficient quantities, but that “there is delay” on the ground.
• Regarding the issue of late salaries to staff at diplomatic missions abroad, Bou Habib explained that the payment issue is connected to the difference between the official lira-dollar exchange rate (LL1,500-$1) and the parallel market rate. The Foreign Affairs Minister said that he hopes the ministry “will be able to relieve the workers in the diplomatic missions.” Alameh added that embassy services “will be not affected.”
BEIRUT — In its meeting Thursday, Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee discussed Lebanese citizens detained — specifically in France and elsewhere in the Arab region — raising “the idea of establishing a network” to determine their fate and the reasons behind their detention, MP Fadi Alameh told L’Orient Today.Here’s what we know: • According to Alameh, the...