ASIA/LEBANON - The Maronite Patriarch: the heavy burden of refugees is compromising the identity of the Lebanese nation

Thursday, 30 June 2016 refugees

New York (Agenzia Fides) - The huge mass of Syrian refugees who have taken refuge in Lebanon, threatens to upset the balance and the identity of the Lebanese nation, partly because the multitudes of refugees who drag their lives in precarious conditions, and at times desperate, represent a potential recruitment pool for terrorist organizations. This is the alarming scenario of the situation in Lebanon and the entire Middle East described by Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, Primate of the Maronite Church, in a speech he delivered on Tuesday, June 28 in New York, at the headquarters of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, during his pastoral visit in the USA.
According to Cardinal Rai, a permanent solution to the refugee crisis in the Middle East requires a lasting peace and their gradual repatriation to their home Countries, while their permanent settlement, in the lands where they have found refuge, is to be avoided in every possible way.
During his speech, Patriarch Rai also dedicated articulated considerations to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he considers "the origin of the problems of the Middle East". According to the Primate of the Maronite Church, this conflict can only be solved with "the creation of a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli state, with the return of Palestinian refugees, and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the occupied territories of Palestine, Syria and Lebanon". The separation between religion and national policy, "both for Judaism and for Islam" - added Patriarch Rai - "is one of the fundamental conditions for a permanent political solution in the region", because "problems begin when one automatically discriminates against citizens who do not profess the religion of the State". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 30/06/2016)