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    80 percent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon want to return: ICRC

     The International Committee of the Red Cross Monday said that the majority of Syrian refugees in Lebanon are looking to return home.
    ICRC Lebanon head Christophe Martin’s comments came during discussions with President Michel Aoun at Baabda Palace.
    Martin, according to a statement from the president’s office, spoke with Aoun about the standards that ICRC has set to ensure the refugees’ safe and dignified return. He said the ICRC’s vision for how it would support refugees in their eventual return to Syria would be discussed with senior Lebanese officials as well as international bodies and nations concerned with the refugee crisis.
    He told the president that 80 percent of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon want to go back to Syria once the security situation there improves and noted that around 60,000 Syrian refugees “meaning 1 percent of the [UNHCR] refugee census” in the region had returned to Syria.
    Aoun told the ICRC delegation that Lebanon’s request that Syrian refugees return home would also be to the benefit of the Syrian people and would be “an affirmation of the importance of reaching a peaceful solution for the Syrian crisis that would bring back stability and security to the Syrian territories.”
    He added: “Lebanon doesn’t take responsibility for the Syrian war, but [suffers] its consequences. … The responsibility [of the war] falls on the countries that caused, facilitated or participated in it without anyone being held accountable for what they’ve done.”
    The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, announced last month that the number of registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon has dropped to below one million for the first time since 2014.
    UNHCR said that the count of Syria refugees registered in Lebanon as of the end of November was 997,905.
    Lebanon has hosted one of largest refugee populations per capita since the influx of people fleeing the conflict that broke out in Syria in 2011.
    Separately, Aoun discussed the public sector salary scale bill that was approved by Parliament last summer with a delegation from public institutions that did not benefit from the law.
    The Daily Star

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