BEIRUT — In an interview with the Lebanese daily Al-Joumhouriya published Monday, caretaker Foreign Minister of Foreign affairs Abdallah Bou Habib said his ministry is studying alternatives to the West's "refusal to return Syrian refugees back to their country."
According to official estimates, Lebanon hosts 2 million Syrian refugees, of which only 830,000 are registered with the UN.
The Lebanese government has constantly called for the repatriation of Syrian refugees. Several ministers recently visited Damascus to discuss the issue with the Syrian government. Meanwhile, human rights organizations and donor countries have warned that it is not safe for return, citing security risks.
"We will study the alternatives and there is a specialized team in the ministry of foreign affairs that is developing proposals. We will discuss them during the visit to Damascus after my return [from the United States] and listen to the alternative Syrian proposals," Bou Habib said.
Last month, Bou Habib announced plans to visit Syria to discuss the refugee file with his Syrian counterpart, but no such visit has yet been planned.
Bou Habib said the international community opposes the return of Syrian migrants. He noted that during the EU's last press conference in Brussels regarding the situation in Syria, Western countries "promised to pay an amount of $9 billion for host countries but they will likely not pay more than $2 billion."
According to Bou Habib, "the root of the problem is political not just financial."