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Lebanon closed its borders to Syrian refugees

BEIRUT | - October 19, 2014, 10h03
 Syrian refugees in Lebanon
Lebanon has closed its borders to Syrian refugees that have fled the war in their country, said Saturday Lebanese officials and UN. The only exceptions are for "humanitarian cases".
"We have informed the UN agency responsible for refugees (UNHCR) that we no longer have the capacity to receive refugees," said the Lebanese Social Affairs Minister Rachid Derbas, quoted by the Lebanese daily "al-Akhbar ".

"The country is filled to capacity and we cannot contain more refugees," Derbas said in comments published in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Siyassah.

He called on donor countries to meet its obligations and help the government to carry out its role in resolving the repercussions of the Syrian influx "that exceeded all limits."

The UNHCR representative in Lebanon Ninette Kelley confirmed these restrictions. "What we realized is that now the entry in Lebanon is no longer permitted, as was previously the case forpeople looking to get the status of refugees," she told AFP.

"We found the last two or three weeks more severe restrictions. There are fewer people who approach us to register, showing a curing border," she added.

Kelley told she doesn't have figures on the number of refugees allowed to enter. "It depends on the day, sometimes some refugees come in, and other days very little." Some Syrians enter Lebanon again on "humanitarian standards," she added. But the government has never announced what those criteria, and did not told UNHCR.

According to Kelley, entry restrictions began to be applied first to the north of Lebanon in August and were extended in September to the main crossing point of Masnaa in the Bekaa. But Syrians borrow illegal crossing points on the porous border.

Lebanon hosts more than 1.1 million Syrians, a huge burden for the country of 4 million people to faith balances. Several Lebanese politicians have warned about the inability of the country to bear this burden and had already called for the closure of borders after incidents.
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