Lebanon halts UNHCR staff residency permits

Source: Xinhua| 2018-06-08 21:27:05|Editor: Li Xia
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BEIRUT, June 8 (Xinhua) -- Lebanon's caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Friday issued instructions to freeze the renewal of the United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) staff residency permits until further notice.

A delegation went to Arsal and spoke with Syrian refugees who voiced their willingness to return to their homeland, but the UNHCR scared refugees away from returning through warnings and threats, said a statement of the ministry.

The refugees were scared to return because of questions asked by the UNHCR, and were told that they would be obliged to join the military, due to poor security situation, the statement said.

The UNHCR threatened cutting off aid to them and said that their return was not under international support," it said.

The measure comes after multiple warnings from the ministry issued directly to UNHCR Representative in Beirut, Mireille Girard, who was summoned twice to the ministry to warn her about the policies, the statement added.

The UNHCR has not changed its alleged "policy of intimidation" despite the Bassil informing the UN secretary-general of his disapproval, it said.

"Bassil has asked for studies on further measures that could be taken towards the UNHCR, which are numerous, if it insists on adopting the same policy," the statement read.