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Middle East

Lebanon to ignore UN policy on Syrian refugees

media A Syrian woman with her son, who has meningitis but no drugs to treat it, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley MSF/Nagham Awada

Lebanon has announced that it will set its own policies regarding refugees from conflict in Syria, rather than following those set by international bodies like the United Nations, which it accused of failing to deal with the effects of the influx.

Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil on Tuesday blamed the international community for failing to provide the necessary aid to the Lebanese state, saying that aid has focused solely "on Syrian refugees and not the Lebanese".

While Lebanon opposes any policy that goes against international humanitarian standards, Bassil said, the “international community” should resist putting pressure on such a small country.

Lebanon will set its policies and "the others have to adapt", he argued.

Conservative estimates say that Syrian refugees now make up a quarter of Lebanon's population.

Lebanese Social affairs Minister Rashid Derbas announced yesterday that the number of Syrians fleeing into Lebanon is down 4,000 since the beginning of October.

Derbas denied that this is related to the decision he announced last month to close the border with Syria.

Entry is now restricted to humanitarian cases and those transiting through Lebanon.

The Lebanese army also raided Syrian refugee camps in the northern region of Akkar yesterday, as part of an ongoing crackdown against suspected armed Islamists.

Three suspects were arrested but later released due to lack of evidence.

The Lebanese government is still deciding how to allocate funds granted to Lebanon following an international conference on the Syria crisis in Berlin at the end of October.

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