Lebanon, Cyprus looking for comprehensive solution to Syrian refugee issue-Xinhua

Lebanon, Cyprus looking for comprehensive solution to Syrian refugee issue

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-04-08 23:49:30

BEIRUT, April 8 (Xinhua) -- Lebanon and Cyprus emphasized on Monday their keenness to maintain strong ties and preserve security in both countries and the East Mediterranean by finding a comprehensive solution to the Syrian refugee crisis, according to a statement by the Lebanese Council of Ministers.

Visiting Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides and Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati agreed to work with the European Union to establish a practical framework for providing the Lebanese government with more aid and giving the displaced Syrians incentives to return to their homeland.

The Cypriot president arrived in Lebanon on Monday to discuss ways to solve the Syrian refugee crisis and address its repercussions on both Lebanon and Cyprus.

Mikati said that Lebanon and Cyprus have a common interest in addressing the challenges they face due to illegal immigration, and there is potential for cooperation in enabling competent institutions to control maritime borders.

Mikati called on the European Union and the rest of the international community to take new steps and reconsider their policies towards Syria.

"The Lebanese army and security forces are making every effort to stop illegal immigration, but this can only be achieved by returning those seeking safety to safe areas in Syria or securing their residency in a third country."

For his part, Christodoulides said Cyprus understands the sensitivity of the refugee issue in Lebanon and the importance of finding a final and comprehensive solution by pressuring the European Union and international forums to help Lebanon face these challenges.

"At the same time, we understand Lebanon's official position that the final solution will not be achieved except through their return to their lands, especially since there are certain areas that have become safe in Syria," noted the Cypriot president.

Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees per capita, with the government estimating around 2 million Syrian refugees.

Cyprus, along with other EU member states, is advocating for declaring two regions in Syria as safe, which would enable the return of Syrian migrants. However, under current EU regulations, migrants from Syria are entitled to refugee protection.

The eastern Mediterranean island is grappling with an influx of Syrian migrants. According to official data, more than 2,000 people arrived in Cyprus by sea in the first three months of this year, compared with just 78 in the same period in 2023.

All the boats departed from the coasts of Lebanon, less than 200 km southeast of Cyprus, with nearly all passengers being Syrian.