A delegation of the American Task Force for Lebanon (ATFL) just returned from a trip to Lebanon, where it met with over a hundred representatives of government, business, civil society, and academia while also visiting a Syrian refugee settlement in the Bekaa Valley. During the trip, I and other members of the delegation were struck not only by the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Lebanon but also by how many Lebanese blame the strains of their country on the significant number of Syrian refugees who remain in the country. Without the partnership of the United States, Lebanon, and the international community, we fear these suffering refugees and host communities will become even bigger losers in a larger regional conflict.
Among those with whom we discussed the issue, we found a prevalent belief in a number of factual errors regarding the refugee situation, which can lead to increasing tension in the country. One fact is indisputable: Lebanon’s Syrian refugees, displaced persons, and Palestinian refugees from Syria—numbering more than 1.5 million in total—are the equivalent of the entire population of Canada and most of Mexico flowing into the United States within a short period of time. By comparison, the United States resettled 62 Syrian refugees last year...
Read full text on The Washington Institute website.
Edward M. Gabriel is a former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco and currently President of the American Task Force for Lebanon. He has an extensive background in international affairs, having convened multilateral policy forums involving national security, environmental, and trade and energy issues.