BEIRUT, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- Lebanon called Friday on the European Union (EU) to cooperate on a roadmap aimed at securing a safe return for Syrian refugees to their homeland.
The country's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that "Lebanon and the EU have a common interest in finding a sustainable solution to the Syrian displacement issue, which protects Lebanon socially, economically and on a security level, in addition to preemptively protecting European countries from the consequences of any possible deterioration."
"Lebanon calls for cooperation, consultation and dialogue to lay down a road map that would allow the gradual dignified and safe return of displaced Syrians to their homeland," it added.
The statement comes following an announcement released on July 30 by the EU and its member states stating that "conditions for a safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees and displaced persons, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), are still not met in Syria."
The ministry emphasized that "continuing to link the return to a political solution in Syria, in light of a clear and known blockage on the political horizon, means that they will remain in Lebanon indefinitely."
It also reiterated Lebanon's inability to continue hosting such a big number of Syrian and Palestinian refugees, who constitute around 40 percent of the Lebanese population. The problem has recently led to increased tensions and security incidents among the most vulnerable groups who are competing to access food in Lebanon.
Lebanon remains the country hosting the largest number of refugees per capita, with the government estimation of 1.5 million Syrian refugees.
The country has been suffering from an unprecedented financial crisis and the presence of a big number of refugees weighs heavily on the country's economy and infrastructure. ■