Canada has vowed to help Lebanon to cope with the flow of refugees from Syria, Anadolu has reported. The offer of help was made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion at a joint press conference with his Lebanese counterpart, Gebran Bassil.
“We hope that Canada’s support will help Lebanon and its host communities build resilience and cope with the ongoing crisis in the region,” said Dion. “Canada and Lebanon have a strong and deeply rooted relationship, and our two countries continue to work closely together to achieve peace, security and stability in the Middle East.”
The Canadian official explained that his country’s aid is also set to be provided for projects aimed at alleviating the burden on refugees themselves, engaging women into the social sphere and preventing the spread of terrorism and extremism. A successful conclusion of the crisis, he added, will see the return of stability to Syria so that the refugees can return home.
According to Bassil, the cost to Lebanon of the Syrian refugee crisis since 2012 has now reached more than $13 billion. “As such,” he said, “we are calling for a new mechanism for refugee aid and assistance.” Development projects should be a priority, he suggested.
There are around 1.1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon who are registered with the UN High Commission of Refugee Affairs, although estimates on the ground put the figure closer to 1.5 million. Lebanon also hosts more than half-a-million Palestinian refugees in 12 official UN-run camps and numerous unregistered “gatherings”.