S&D Group in Lebanon: EU must do more to support refugees from both Syria and Palestine
The S&D Group has called for an extra €68 million to be made available to support Palestinian refugees and the Israel-Palestine peace process in the EU’s budget for 2017. The call came during a visit by a delegation from the European Parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee to Lebanon, where over 450,000 Palestinian refugees are registered. This is on top of the 1.1 million Syrian refugees who have arrived since the beginning of the war in Syria, making Lebanon the largest per capita recipient of refugees in the world.
S&D Group vice-president Tanja Fajon, who is in Lebanon, said:
“Lebanon has shown an immense level of solidarity with those fleeing war and persecution in neighbouring countries. It puts Europe to shame that a country of six million people is able to host 1.1 million refugees, while much larger and richer European countries spend years squabbling about hosting a few thousand. For Syrian refugees there is no possibility of returning home in the near future, instead we need to focus on improving conditions and helping them integrate into their host societies.
“Despite the solidarity shown, the number of refugees that have arrived is putting extreme strain on Lebanon. If the international community do not do more to help then we may reach breaking point. In particular, we in Europe need to get serious about resettlement, having millions of people waiting in limbo - unable to build new lives - is not a sustainable solution. We need to increase the amount of humanitarian aid spent on education and health; if we do not then millions of children will miss the chance of building a better future. Alongside this, the EU must do all it can to support a negotiated end to the conflict in Syria.
“We also cannot forget about the 450,000 Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon. Some of these have been here for generations following their expulsion from the Palestinian territories, whereas others have recently arrived from Syria. We are calling for an extra €68 million to be made available in the EU’s 2017 budget to support the Israel- Palestine peace process and the UNRWA, which is the main service provider for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The world must finally get serious about ending this conflict and helping these people rebuild their lives.”