Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Rahi, reiterated from the United States his rejection of the resettlement of Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Lebanon, noting that Lebanon has suffered enough from the impact of wars and neighboring crises.
“The refugee case is of primary importance, especially with fears about their resettlement in Lebanon. We categorically reject this, and this is also the official position of Lebanon!” said Rahi while on a visit to Orange County, California.
“We also refuse what is said about the voluntary return of refugees to their homes, because this return may be mandatory and we have officially informed the UN Secretary General and the presidents of several countries about it. Lebanon has suffered enough from the impact of wars and crises in the region,” said the Cardinal, stressing that there were various safe areas in Syria for the refugees to go back to and live in dignity.
The Patriarch assured that he understood the suffering of refugees, but the difficulties that they face could well be exploited by terrorist organizations in their recruitment of new members.
“We fear that this is what happened in Qaa and we urge the international community to meet its commitments towards Lebanon,” he noted, stating that the international community has applauded Lebanon’s hospitality enough, and now it was time for action.
The Patriarch, who arrived in the parish of Saint John Maroun in Orange County, California on Saturday, July 2, further regretted that justice, peace and security were absent from the Middle East, calling on the international community to “work for the establishment of real and lasting peace, justice and social growth in this part of the world.”
Rahi also encouraged expatriates to focus on their Lebanese nationality, to invest in their country of origin and to help their families financially “so that they may remain in Lebanon.”
“It is vital that Christians in Lebanon and the Middle East remain in their country,” he stated, “the Muslim-Christian unity is a guarantee for the salvation of Lebanon.”
The Patriarch once more urged the US administration to take action to keep Lebanon away from regional conflicts.