BEIRUT — Caretaker Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati held a meeting on Tuesday focused on the illegal entry of Syrian refugees into Lebanon while border crossings seem to be on the rise, according to the latest army figures.
Caretaker Minister for Displaced Persons Issam Charafeddine; acting Director of the Internal Security Forces General Elias Baisari; and Secretary General of the High Defense Council Mohammad Mustafa took part in the meeting.
The possibility of "sanctioning" those who would welcome these "illegal refugees" is being studied, said Issam Charafeddine.
"This meeting focused on the issue of the + newly displaced Syrians + which started three weeks ago and constitutes a dangerous phenomenon because these displaced people enter through illegal crossing points," Charafeddine said in a press statement.
"We discussed a mechanism [to prevent these people from going to Lebanon], which is to monitor the border and coordinate with officials in Syria. We will also ask the military, intelligence and security general to coordinate with the caimacams and the municipalities so that anyone who hosts illegally displaced persons bears the consequences," he continued.
The minister also said Tuesday that "high-level contacts will be established with Syria and, as the file is a security matter, it is General Baisari who will take care of it."
In August 2022, Charafeddine — who often denounces the presence of refugees in Lebanon — presented a plan for the repatriation of 15,000 Syrian nationals per month, but the plan was never implemented. The UNHCR denounced Charafeddine's plan, saying it put refugees in danger.
The Lebanese Army, which often arrests refugees who enter Lebanon illegally, announced Monday that it had prevented 850 Syrians from entering Lebanon by land in one week. The previous week, the army claimed to have prevented an additional 700 Syrians from illegally entering Lebanon.
There are many people and drug smuggling networks that operate on the porous border between Lebanon and Syria.
According to official estimates, Lebanon hosts two million Syrian refugees, of whom nearly 830,000 are registered with the UN.