UN envoy says return of Syrian refugees to homeland ‘priority’

Beirut: United Nations special envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen said on Monday that the UN is working on finding appropriate ways to allow Syrian refugees to return to their homeland, a statement by Lebanon’s presidency reported.

“This is a priority for the UN during the deliberations taking place in Geneva, in which Lebanon was invited to participate,” Pedersen said during his meeting at Baabda Palace with Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

Pederson expressed the appreciation of the UN and the international community for the care provided by the Lebanese state to the displaced Syrians despite the difficult economic conditions prevailing in Lebanon.

Meanwhile, Aoun told Pedersen that the international community must assume its responsibilities by securing the return of displaced Syrians to their homeland instead of staying in Lebanon and relying on financial support from international organizations.

Aoun also gave an overview to Pederson about the difficult economic and living conditions in Lebanon which were further exacerbated by the presence of a big number of Syrian refugees on Lebanese territories.

More than one million Syrian refugees are registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Lebanon, while the Lebanese government estimated the true number of Syrians in the country at 1.5 million.