Pittella: “Instead of complaining, EU should take example from Lebanon’s generosity in tackling refugee crisis”

At the end of a two-day meeting in Beirut (Lebanon) between European and Arab progressive leaders on the refugee situation, S&D Group President Gianni Pittella took note of the incredible work being done by Lebanon to welcome refugees. Alongside Mr Pittella, the S&D delegation was composed of MEPs Richard Howitt, Gilles Pargneaux, Marie Arena, Arne Lietz, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Cecile Kyenge and Pier Antonio Panzeri. During the visit, organised by the Global Progressive Forum, Members met with Arab counterparts, NGOs and visited various refugee camps.

At the end of the visit, S&D Group President, Gianni Pittella, stated:

"Instead of complaining, EU Member States should deliver on their commitments and take example from Lebanon’s great generosity. A country of just four million inhabitants is hosting almost 1.5 million refugees from Syria and Palestine. If it were Italy or France, countries of more than 60 million inhabitants, it would be equivalent of hosting 16 million refugees. It is a shame that we in Europe are not able to show the same generosity to the thousands fleeing war and persecution.”

“Unfortunately in Europe we still have to combat the selfishness of some governments and fight against more and more populist rhetoric from xenophobic forces. We urge Member States to honour their commitments and agree to a holistic, permanent and binding relocation mechanism to help tackle the migration crisis.”

“Along with our S&D colleagues, we visited Shatila and others refugees camps in Lebanon. Despite the great efforts put in place by the Lebanese authorities, the conditions the people here face are increasingly deteriorating. We cannot imagine a long term solution if the international community can’t reach an agreement on a peace process for Syria. In this regard, we welcome the outcome of the Vienna summit as a step in the right direction from all international and regional actors.”