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Dispute on Refugees Ahead of ‘Beirut Declaration’

Dispute on Refugees Ahead of ‘Beirut Declaration’

Monday, 21 January, 2019 - 07:00
Arab economic summit held in Beirut on Sunday/NNA
Beirut - Cairo - Nazeer Rida and Sawsan Abu Husain
The fourth Arab Economic and Social Development Summit concluded in Beirut Sunday by reaching an agreement on refugees and the displaced.

Participants had agreed on the refugee clause in the final draft communique following lengthy discussions held Friday during the summit’s preparatory meetings.

Lebanon had pushed for adding a clause on the return of refugees in paragraph 13 of the summit’s communique. But the proposal was rejected by three Arab states, forcing Lebanon to give up its demands in return for a separate announcement on refugees made by caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil during a joint press conference with Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

Bassil considered the announcement a victory for his country and for all states hosting refugees.

"We call on the international community to assume its responsibilities to reduce the tragedy of displacement and asylum, to provide all facilities to find radical solutions, and to intensify collective international efforts to promote the conditions for the return of displaced persons and refugees to their homeland," he said during the press conference.

"The Syrian refugees' statement is a victory for Lebanon and a gesture of solidarity on part of the Arab countries towards the host countries, and a recognition of their sacrifices," the minister added.

The Beirut Declaration recognized the worsening of the crisis of refugees and displaced persons in Arab states and the consequent economic and social burdens shouldered by host countries, and the major challenges for improving their situation and alleviating their suffering.

The League's Secretary-General announced that the next Arab economic summit would be held in Mauritania's capital Nouakchot in 2023.

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