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.
Trump has Republicans ‘in a vice’ as bad as Charlottesville and Access Hollywood: MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace
Donald Trump's increasingly toxic rhetoric against women of color has put the Republican Party in a "vice" of choosing between loyalty to the White House and voters disgusted by the bigotry the president had been broadcasting.
"Donald Trump today has the Republican Party in a vice the likes of which they haven’t experienced since Charlottesville and before that, in the aftermath of the “Access Hollywood” tape," Wallace explained, citing the biggest moments of Trump displaying his respective racism and misogyny.
"Republicans -- who have hardly been profiles in courage -- today found just over a dozen of their members break rank and slowly, timidly, begin to call out Donald Trump’s flagrant, bellicose, racist attacks against four female members of Congress," she reported.
Italy seizes air-to-air missile along with neo-Nazi propaganda and Hitler memorabilia from far-right sympathizers
Italian police seized an air-to-air missile, machine guns and rocket launchers during raids sparked by an investigation into far-right extremist groups on Monday, a huge haul of weapons that authorities said was almost without precedent.
Police arrested three people, including Fabio Del Bergiolo, 50, a former candidate for the neo-fascist Forza Nuova party, whose home was found to contain a huge stash of arms as well as neo-Nazi propaganda and Hitler memorabilia.
Fireflies’ glow could soon be extinguished by human actions
Species’ extinction rates are accelerating on a global scale. We need solutions that match the severity of the problem.
Say goodbye to one of the dreamiest things about childhood. In the Midwest, fireflies are dying off.
For many Americans, it’s hard to imagine summer nights without the magical glow of dozens of bioluminescent bodies fluttering above the grasses and fields, and lighting up the dark skies above.