Radical idea: Lebanese patriarch suggests housing Syrian refugees in Syria

Lebanon is a small place

(Reuters) – The head of Lebanon’s Maronite Christian Church suggested on Wednesday that Syrian refugees should be housed in camps inside Syria, reflecting growing frustration among Lebanese over the burden imposed on their country by their neighbors’ war.

The United Nations has registered 1 million refugees in Lebanon since the conflict began three years ago, the highest concentration of refugees worldwide. They are housed in homes and local communities rather than refugee camps.

Cardinal Beshara al-Rai, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, told a news conference in Geneva that the presence of so many Syrians represented a huge economic, social, political and security burden for Lebanon.

“Why not install some camps for them in Syrian territory where there is security? The area of Syria is 20 times greater than that of Lebanon,” he said.

“There is plenty of spare space in secure terrority or at least to facilitate the passage of humanitarian aid in no man’s land between the borders of Lebanon and Syria.”

Ordinary Lebanese had welcomed the Syrians but were now paying a price for doing so, he said.

“They take all the work from the Lebanese people and the Lebanese are chased out. It’s not possible.”