“They want to place the refugees as a bomb in the countries neighboring Syria, even if it would blow up the society, the security, and the economy in nations like Lebanon,” President Michel Aoun told the Russian RIA Novosti news agency. 

Lebanon has an estimated population of over six million. Of those, a million are registered refugees from Syria and some 500,000 others are people who fled Syria but have no proper paperwork, according to the UN. The refugees are one of several issues plaguing the nation, which is facing a troubled political period. Last year, mass street protests caused the fall of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s government. In March, Lebanon defaulted on its national debt.

While his country and other neighbors of Syria suffer, Western nations “don’t want to share responsibility for the refugees, even though the US and many European nations have great capabilities,” President Aoun said. The West is insisting that the refugees should not go back to Syria until a political transition is enacted there, which means they may stay in Lebanon for “a very long time”, the head of the country said. One need not look far for an example of this – Lebanon has been hosting Palestinian refugees for over seven decades, and their case is not yet resolved.

“We believe Russia and Lebanon have a similar perception of the issue of the Syrian refugees. We hope this similarity will help change the international intention to keep the refugees in the countries that they fled to,” he added.

Russia supported the Syrian government in its war against jihadist groups, but the country is still far from becoming stable. Moscow has advocated helping Damascus to rebuild the parts of the country under its control so that more Syrian citizens can return home. Western nations consider the Syrian government illegitimate and refuse to lift sanctions from Syria while it remains in power, delaying reconstruction in the war-torn nation.

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