ASIA/LEBANON - Maronite Bishops on the elections: the next government must aim at the repatriation of Syrian refugees

Thursday, 3 May 2018 middle east   oriental churches   refugees   politics   elections   sectaniarism

Bkerke (Agenzia Fides) - The parliament and the government that will be elected on Sunday 6 May will have to oppose the attempt to permanently impose on Lebanon the weight of the reception of Syrian refugees. This is one of the priorities indicated by the Maronite Bishops in a widespread pronouncement in view of the forthcoming, important national election deadline.
The Council of the Maronite Bishops, gathered on Wednesday 2 May at the Patriarchal headquarters of Bkerké under the presidency of Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, at the end of the meeting urged future parliamentarians and members of the government to stand with President Michel Aoun regarding the management of refugee-emergency, and called for the urgency of a "global plan" aimed at favoring the repatriation of displaced Syrians who found refuge in Lebanese territory.
In recent weeks, there has been growing concern in sectors of the Maronite Church that processes of stabilization of Syrian refugees present in Lebanon can be initiated. This eventuality, in addition to having unpredictable effects on the already difficult Lebanese economic situation, according to the Maronite Bishops would end up altering the demographic profile of the Country, putting a strain on the delicate balance among the different religious communities. On 7 and 8 April, in two different homilies, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai had expressed his concern for an article included in the national budget law 2018 that recognized the possibility of obtaining a residence permit in Lebanon to all foreigners who purchase a housing unit in Lebanese territory worth at least 500 thousand dollars. The Patriarch had denounced this measure as a preliminary move to eventually grant Lebanese nationality to foreigners - including Syrian refugees - who have been living in Lebanon for some time. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 3/5/2018)