Lebanese PM calls for intl help on Syrian refugees

imgLebanon Prime Minister Tammam Salam hoped on Tuesday that the international community is aware of Lebanon’s huge financial needs to confront the burden of refugees.

“The refugees are affecting our economy and security … We call for more funding to confront the repercussions of the refugee crisis,” Salam said at the opening of the Berlin conference on Syrian refugees, which was attended by Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas.

In addition to placing huge strains on the country’s hospitals, schools and other institutions, the refugees also are taking jobs from Lebanese workers, creating resentment, Salam said.

“The massive influx of Syrians into poor communities totally unprepared to cope with such a sudden burden has had a destabilizing effect, with a variety of challenges and threats that constitute a fertile ground for extremism and violence,” he said.

Jordan warned of similar issues at the conference which was attended by foreign ministers and other representatives from 40 nations to coordinate international support for the refugees from the Syrian civil war.

Guests included the head of the United Nations refugee agency, Antonio Guterres.

Turkey’s deputy foreign minister, Naci Koru, noted that his country had spent some $4 billion on dealing with Syrian refugees so far, and received only $250 million from the international community.

“We have big challenges, including the crisis of refugees that Lebanon and neighboring countries are suffering from,” Salam told reporters before attending the one-day conference.

“We should cooperate with the international community,” he said in hopes that it would be “aware that Lebanon needs huge financial support” to confront such a burden.

“The Lebanese are providing all what the Syrians need … But we adopted a practical measure to deal with the refugees,” the PM said ahead of talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

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