European plan to offer 1 billion euros to Lebanon to stop the migration of Syrians

President of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and interim Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati attended a press conference at the Government Palace in Beirut - May 2, 2024 (Reuters)

President of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and interim Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati attended a press conference at the Government Palace in Beirut - May 2, 2024 (Reuters)


The European Union plans to halt the illegal migration of Syrian refugees from Lebanon to Cyprus, where they continue their journey from Greek Cyprus to other European countries.

German media reported today, Thursday, May 2, that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides traveled to Lebanon to strike a deal with Lebanese officials.

According to the German television site “Tagesschau“, the agreement aims to provide financial aid amounting to one billion euros to Lebanon to prevent the migration of refugees, most of whom are of Syrian nationality, towards Cyprus.

The EU funds to be provided are planned to be used to enhance health, educational, and social services in Lebanon, in addition to allocating some of the funds to the Lebanese authorities and armed forces to combat smuggling activities and pursue smuggling gangs, as well as for economic and financial reforms.

According to the plans, legal migration will be easier in the coming period, according to the German site.

Recently, the Cypriot president, Christodoulides, confirmed that his country is not in a position to receive more people as refugee camps are overcrowded.

According to the Cypriot president, Syrians have recently been migrating from Lebanon to the island of Cyprus, located in the eastern Mediterranean approximately 200 kilometers from Lebanon by boats on a daily basis.

Relying on Cypriot official figures and statements, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has promised assistance.

Lebanon threatens to open sea ports

In a statement made by the Lebanese Minister of Migration, Issam Sharafeddine, on April 27, he categorized Syrians into three groups: the first comprising workers, craftsmen, and business owners; the second are refugees fleeing the “civil war” and economically displaced individuals—the largest percentage; the third are political refugees and armed opponents, according to his classification.

The Lebanese National News Agency (NNA) reported on solutions proposed by the minister for the Syrian presence in Lebanon according to each category. For those in the first category, their presence needs to be regulated according to the official decrees of the Ministries of Labor and Interior, by obtaining residency and work permits. As for the second category, they are subject to the Minister of Displacement’s plan, which relies on a programmed gradual repatriation of 15,000 displaced persons per month, noting that no political decision has been taken to implement this plan yet.

For the third category, there are three options: the first is to benefit from the “presidential pardon” and return to Syria, according to the minister’s statement, the second is deportation to a third country under international conventions and the 2003 Refugee Commission agreement with Lebanon.

The third solution, according to Sharafeddine, involves donor countries like the United States and Western Europe, and the Refugee Commission, which he considers obstructive and non-compliant with international norms and treaties regarding the reception of Syrian refugees, noting that out of 600,000 asylum applications to a third country, only 10,000 have been accepted.

During his statement, the minister charged the Lebanese government with “procrastination” in the matter of the return of the Syrians, and proposed opening maritime ports wide to pressure European countries on the refugee issue, equipping ships carrying Syrian refugees to Europe, considering that these maritime journeys are based on an international and moral document, and thus, Europeans must bear the consequences of asylum and the responsibility of contributing to the reconstruction of Syria.

In the same context, he revealed that lists of those wishing to return have been prepared and handed over to the General Director of Lebanese Public Security, then to Syrian National Security, awaiting the verification of names and the outcome, with hopes of receiving an answer soon.

Outline of the agreement

The contours of the agreement between Lebanon and the European Union began to emerge since April 22, when the EU Commissioner Designate for Protecting European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said that the EU could reach an agreement with Beirut to curb the migration of asylum seekers, most of whom are Syrians, starting from the Lebanese shores, similar to the agreement signed with Egypt.

The European Union has signed agreements with several countries to help them manage the burden of increasing migration and prevent its spread to member states, which has faced criticism from human rights groups, according to Reuters.

The Cypriot Interior Minister, Konstantinos Ioannou, mentioned that the Cypriot government’s proposal to enable the repatriation of Syrian refugees to their homeland by designating specific areas inside Syria as “safe zones” is gaining popularity among EU member states, and after talks with the Vice President of the European Commission, he added, “It is time to collectively dare to discuss the possibility of designating safe zones, 13 years after the onset of the Syrian conflict”, as reported by the American news agency “Associated Press“.

Cyprus has been requesting the European Union for about a year to review the classification of Syria as an “unsafe” country and whether European countries should continue to prevent the repatriation of asylum seekers to it.



النسخة العربية من المقال

Related Articles

  1. A billion euros is not enough, Lebanon wants more out of refugee file
  2. Reduced aid drives Syrians to leave Lebanon
  3. Syrian prisoners in Lebanon face deportation risk
  4. A “Fake” Route Taken by Syrians to Reach Cyprus from Lebanon

Propaganda distorts the truth and prolongs the war..

Syria needs free media.. We need your support to stay independent..

Support Enab Baladi..

$1 a month makes a difference..

Click here to support