Lebanon said Thursday it will ask the UN to stop registering refugees who enter the country from war-torn Syria, as it formalised a decision to all but close its borders to them.
“As far as the issue of restricting the number of (refugee) cases is concerned, the government agreed to stop welcoming displaced people, barring exceptional cases, and to ask the UN refugee agency to stop registering the displaced,” Information Minister Ramzi Jreij said.
Only refugees whose files had been approved by the government would be given refugee status in Lebanon, he told reporters.
The announcement came less than a week after Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas was quoted as saying that Lebanon “no longer officially receives any displaced Syrians”.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) had previously confirmed increased restrictions at the border with Syria.
“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,” Ninette Kelley, UNHCR’s representative in Lebanon, said on Saturday.
Not all Syrian refugees enter Lebanon through official crossings, however, with many traversing the porous and difficult-to-patrol frontier.
Lebanon already hosts more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees, an enormous strain for a country with a population of just four million.
The influx has tested overstretched infrastructure, and created fresh tensions.
Politicians have long warned Lebanon cannot continue to shoulder such a disproportionate refugee burden, and calls for the closure of the border with Syria have increased after numerous security incidents.
In August, jihadist groups crossed from Syria into the eastern town of Arsal, sparking clashes with the military that left dozens of people dead.
The retreating jihadists took with them some 30 Lebanese police and troops as hostages, and have since executed three of them.
The UNHCR has regularly urged the international community to provide Lebanon with greater assistance to tackle the influx.
The agency has also called on other countries to open their doors to fleeing Syrians to ease the burden on Lebanon and other neighbouring states.
More than three million Syrians have fled their country since the uprising that began in March 2011, with most taking shelter in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.
Chris Wallace grills Pence aide on Russia attacks: ‘You can’t say it didn’t happen and then say they leaked it’
Fox News host Chris Wallace called out Marc Short, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, after he insisted that there is no intelligence that shows Russia has a preference for President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
"There's not intelligence that said the Russians are trying to help Donald Trump win elections," Short said during an interview on Fox News Sunday.
"I know that's the White House argument," Wallace acknowledged. "There is a consistent story that came out this week and we've heard it from members of the committee, from members of the intelligence community, we've heard it from people in your own White House."
GOP lawmakers melt down after Maryland AP history class teacher uses illustration to compare Trump to Nazis
According to a report from the Washington Times, Maryland Republicans are up in arms after an AP history teacher at a local high school used a slide to illustrate similarities between Donald Trump's policies and those of the Nazis.
The report states, "A slide used in an Advanced Placement history class at Loch Raven High School in Towson shows a picture of Trump above pictures of a Nazi swastika and a flag of the Soviet Union. Two captions read 'wants to round up a group of people and build a giant wall' and 'oh, THAT is why it sounds so familiar!'"
Stop praising anti-Trump evangelicals: Their embrace of authoritarianism is a big part of the problem
At this critical moment for American democracy our media landscape is doing a poor job in its coverage of conservative white evangelicals. Coverage of this relatively large segment of the population is characterized by, on the one hand, effusive praise for the slightest milquetoast criticism of Donald Trump, and on the other, by a periodic parade of nearly interchangeable unfounded predictions about how evangelical youth are going to change America’s most radically right-wing demographic for the better—any day now. In the words of the great sage Bullwinkle J. Moose, “This time for sure!”