Aoun Warns on Refugee Burden, Urges End to ‘Wars among Brothers’

President Michel Aoun warned Wednesday that tiny Lebanon is reeling under the impact of the presence of around two million Syrian and Palestinian refugees on its soil, as he called for an end to the “wars among brothers” in the region.

“Lebanon, which started to recover after its institutions returned to normalcy, is still haunted by anxiety and concern and it has not yet known relief or reassurance, and today it is addressing your conscience,” Aoun said in a speech at the 28th Arab Summit in Jordan, his first since being elected Lebanon’s president.

“It is true that the flames raging around it have not reached it, but it is suffering the repercussions and reeling under their burden. We are seeing the misery and pain around us and we are trying to help as much as possible, but when the needed exceeds our capacity, we drown in the burdens and they start to pose a threat to us,” Aoun warned.

He noted that today Lebanon is hosting “Syrians and Palestinians whose numbers are equivalent to half of its Lebanese population,” adding that “the numbers are increasing.”

“As you know, Lebanon with its nature, small territory and scarce resources is a migration and not a resettlement country,” the president told the summit.

He stressed that “alleviating the misery of the displaced and their salvation from the harshness of their mandatory migration, in addition to sparing Lebanon the social, economic, security and political repercussions, can only be achieved through their safe return to their homeland.”

Turning to the situations in the region, Aoun said “Lebanon through its good ties with all the brotherly countries expresses its full readiness to help in bridging the differences and reviving the language of dialogue, because we as Lebanese went through various forms of wars that only ended through dialogue.”

“This critical period obliges us to decide today to end the wars among brothers — which have many military, economic, journalistic and diplomatic forms – and to sit around the dialogue table in order to specify and respect the legitimate vital interests of each party, or else we will all pay the price of a solution that will be soon imposed on us,” Aoun went on to say.

He urged Arabs to “take an effective initiative that can influence the events, stop the bloodbaths and put out the raging blaze.”

The Arab League’s “role today is to reunite Arabs and find fair solutions in the burning countries in order to immunize the Arab world in the face of the current period’s challenges and threats,” the president added.