Lebanon to reject any more Syrian refugees
Syrian refugees fleeing war and destruction will not be allowed to enter neighbouring Lebanon, if officials get their way, it emerged on Thursday.
The only refugees who will be legally accepted into the country are those whose cases are specifically approved by the government.
"The government agreed to stop welcoming displaced people, barring exceptional cases, and to ask the UN refugee agency to stop registering the displaced," said Information Minister Ramzi Jreij.
Earlier this week, Social Affairs Minister Rashid Debres said that Lebanon "no longer receives any displaced Syrians".
Increased restrictions at the Lebanon-Syria border have been confirmed by the UN refugee agency.
|People who are coming to claim refugee status are not being permitted to enter in the way that they were previously
- Ninette Kelley, UNHCR
"Our understanding is that people who are coming to claim refugee status are not being permitted to enter in the way that they were previously," said Ninette Kelley, UN High Commission for Refugees' representative in Lebanon.
Sharing the load
Lebanon, a country with a population of just four million, has already hosted more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees.
The influx has mounted great strains on the country's already weak infrastructure, and created fresh tensions between communities.
The UNHCR has frequently urged the international community to provide Lebanon with greater assistance to tackle the steady stream of desperate people seeking refuge.
The agency has also called on other countries to open their borders to fleeing Syrians to ease the burden on Lebanon and other neighbouring countries.
Europe's response has been minimal.
The University of Oxford's Refugee Studies Centre noted that Europe had hosted approximately 123,600 of the three million Syrian refugees registered with UNHCR.