(UPDATE) AOUN HEADS MEETING ADDRESSING RETURN OF DISPLACED SYRIANS

President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, chaired a meeting devoted to tackle the return of the displaced Syrians, in light of the plan drawn up by the Lebanese government for this purpose.

The meeting was attended by Foreign Affairs Minister, Abdullah Bou Habib, Social Affairs Minister, Hector Hajjar, Director General of General Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, former Minister, Salim Jreissati, and advisors Rafic Shelala and Raymond Tarabey.

The file was studied from its various aspects, especially the procedures that will be adopted to implement the return plan in stages.

Statement:

After the meeting, Minister Hajjar made the following statement:

“Our meeting today is a continuation of the meeting that was held last Monday, and I had announced successive meetings to focus on the issue of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, as well as the Director General of General Security, in addition to the advisors in the Presidential Palace.

Today, a lot of suggestions were deliberated, and a number of steps and procedures will be taken, and they will be implemented through the relevant ministries and departments, while being consulted in an ascending manner.

At the same time, there will be a meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to inform it of several issues related to Lebanese laws, and how to coordinate and work jointly with each other. Because in the last stage, there was a feeling as if the work was occurring without coordination, but rather reporting, knowing that we are the concerned and hosting country, and we must remember the principles of dealing with us in this field, specifically the humanitarian file, and where the political file will be dealt with.

We will continue to discuss all these issues with the President, to address the issue and take executive steps”.

Questions & Answers:

Question: Is communication on-going with Damascus in this regard?

Answer: “Communication with the Syrians has never been interrupted, on the issue of the displaced or others, and it is based at the highest levels and it is not hidden from anyone. There are announced and unannounced visits of ministers on this issue and others”.

Question: Has the issue of credit cards and aid been discussed?

Answer: “We have previously apologized to the Lebanese, especially the beneficiaries of the AMAN program and those who are waiting to benefit from it, and we said that the apology is due to the delay, and that starting from the beginning of this week, the messages will arrive successively within days, and this is what actually happened, as messages have arrived since last Monday to More than 50,000 citizens, and preparations are being made today and tomorrow to follow up on messages. We hope that by the end of this month, we will have finished the technical problems that we faced with the first 75,000 beneficiaries, including, for example: the inability of some to receive the amounts because their card stopped working after two months and there is a restriction on the names of some.

Thus, by the end of August, we would have dealt with the file to move towards the second section, that is, to benefit from a new batch of 75,000 other people”.

French Expatriate Delegation:

President Aoun met Dr. Antoine Shedid with a delegation from the “Rally for Lebanon in France RPL”.

The delegation included many Lebanese residing in France, who came to Lebanon to spend the summer vacation.

On behalf of the delegation, Dr. Shedid conveyed to President Aoun the greetings of the Lebanese in France and their support for the efforts he has made, and still is, in order to overcome the difficult conditions that Lebanon is going through.

Dr. Shedid stressed that the Lebanese in France are following up on what is happening in their mother country, and “Highly appreciating all the sacrifices you are taking and the initiatives that aim to get out of the current crises”.

“We appreciate, Mr. President, the extent of your suffering and your determination to combat corruption and confront the corrupt, and we look forward to your efforts being crowned with success” Dr. Shedid added.

For his side, the President welcomed the delegation, recalling the role the Lebanese played in France through the “Association for Lebanon in France”.

President Aoun also expressed his happiness to meet members of this gathering who continue to work for their motherland with relentless determination and will.

Moreover, the President presented the conditions that Lebanon is currently experiencing, focusing on the accumulations that occurred thirty years ago and exacerbated during the past years, and were exacerbated by the crises that occurred in the world, then the Syrian war and the displacement of more than one and a half million Syrians to Lebanon, and the spread of the Corona pandemic, reaching the Beirut port blast.

In response to questions by the delegation, President Aoun affirmed that “Lebanon adheres to its rights to its waters and natural resources, and has come a long way in the negotiations to demarcate the southern maritime borders, which will be completed in order to reach an agreement in this regard under the auspices of the United Nations and the mediation of the United States of America”.

The President also considered that the battle against corruption should continue in conjunction with the forensic audit in Central Bank accounts, “Since there is a group that plundered this country and impoverished its people, and it is not permissible to leave this group without accountability and punishment, especially since the pillars of this group protect each other”.

Finally, President Aoun asserted that he is regularly following up on the Beirut Port explosion, “The investigation of which has unfortunately stopped, after obstacles placed in the way of the judicial investigator, and work continues to remove them with the aim of achieving justice and holding the real perpetrators accountable”.

The President pointed out that he stands in solidarity with the families of the martyrs, the wounded, the disabled, and the families of the detainees, striving that the investigation reaches practical results.

Medal of Merit for Mireille Hayek:

President Aoun received the owner of the “Um Sharif” group in Lebanon and the world, Mrs. Mireille Hayek, and the general manager of the group, Mr. Danny Shakour.

President Aoun was briefed about the spread of the “Um Sharif” restaurant chain in 14 Arab and international countries, and the on-going planning for further expansion in the transfer of Lebanese cuisine to the world.

In appreciation of Mrs. Hayek’s role, President Aoun awarded her the Silver Lebanese Order of Merit, praising her efforts that brought the distinctive Lebanese taste to the world and spread Lebanese cuisine and Lebanese cuisine to perfection and art.

The President also hoped that this honor would be a catalyst for more giving and success, and an invitation to the Lebanese to transfer their creativity at home to abroad, so that the name of Lebanon would remain synonymous with success and progress.

Source: National News Agency – Lebanon