Spokesperson's comment on Lebanon
In response to questions UNHCR has been receiving on the situation in Lebanon and last week's remarks by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, UNHCR's spokesperson Andrej Mahecic has the following comment:
UNHCR wishes to underscore the importance of working closely with Lebanon to find safe, dignified and sustainable solutions for Syrian refugees. In all countries we respect the rights of refugees to decide freely and for themselves on returning home. And similarly, we do not discourage returns that are based on individual free and informed decisions.
UNHCR is very concerned at Friday’s announcement by Foreign Minister Bassil on freezing the issuance of residence permits to international staff of UNHCR in Lebanon. This affects our staff and their families and directly impacts UNHCR’s ability to effectively carry out critical protection and solutions work in Lebanon. Our work is aimed at supporting the Government of Lebanon and local communities in managing the tremendous challenge Lebanon faces in hosting around a million Syrian refugees, and to continue our efforts within the broader United Nations family and international community to finding, for refugees, durable solutions outside Lebanon. We hope the decision of the Foreign Ministry will be reversed without delay.
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