BEIRUT — Hezbollah deputy leader Naim Qassem on Saturday condemned an EU resolution reached on Wednesday in which it expressed concerns over repatriating Syrian refugees from Lebanon.
In a speech in Sour, Qassem said that the EU "is controlling our internal decisions" and "forcing upon us to accept the refugees in spite of all the hard and complicated conditions for them [refugees] and for us."
Qassem also called on donor countries to "stop paying them [refugees] money in this context and pay those who repatriate. Then you would find that the majority of refugees are willing to repatriate."
The EU resolution, which focused on Lebanon, addressed various issues, including the political deadline and the 2020 Beirut port blast. Article 13, which refers to the presence of Syrian refugees in the country, has triggered controversy.
Several Lebanese politicians criticized Article 13, which they believe encourages Syrian refugees to remain in Lebanon.
While the text does not explicitly call for Syrian refugees to remain in Lebanon, it states that "the conditions required for a voluntary and dignified return of refugees are not present."
This reflects the position the international community and rights groups have taken over the years, as many returnees still face mandatory military conscription, homelessness, detainment and forced disappearance upon reentering Syria.
The EU text also calls on Lebanon "to refrain from expelling, imposing discriminatory measures and inciting hatred against Syrian refugees."