The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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May 24, 2014

Naharnet - Cabinet Forms Committee on Refugee Crisis Seeks Establishing Camps in Syria or Border Regions, May 24, 2014

In the last ministerial session presided over by President Michel Suleiman before he leaves office on May 25, the cabinet on Friday formed a committee to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis, but failed to approve the long-awaited appointments of deans and professors at the Lebanese University.

“A ministerial cell was formed to follow up on the refugees' conditions and adopt procedures to deal with the influx of Syrians in cooperation with concerned administrative bodies,” Information Minister Ramzi Jreij announced after the evening cabinet session at Baabda Palace.

The committee is under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Tammam Salam, and is formed of the ministers of foreign affairs, interior, and social affairs, Jreij detailed.

He also revealed that the Foreign Ministry was tasked with seeking to establish safe refugee camps inside Syria or in the border region between both countries, in cooperation with concerned parties.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Social Affairs was given the responsibility of determining and organizing the relationship with all concerned organizations and taking the necessary procedures to limit the cost of the refugees' influx, and to enable local bodies in bearing the cost of hosting refugees.

"The Minister of Interior was assigned to organize the refugee influx according to international standards, to insure their safe return to their country,” the Information Minister added.

The UNHCR's periodic report revealed on Monday that the number of Syrians who fled the war-torn neighboring country has reached 1,058,088, in addition to 11,000 who crossed into the country in the past week.

The United Nations has called for gathering USD 1,89 billion to support Lebanon in dealing with the refugee crisis in 2014, but has only received USD 242 million of the total amount.

In a separate matter, a draft law was adopted during the cabinet session to open credits designed to cover the deficit in the salaries and compensations in public administration.

Although not on the agenda, the ministers were expected to discuss the appointments of deans and professors at the Lebanese University.

Radio Voice of Lebanon (93.3) reported that a meeting was held between Suleiman, Salam and Education Minister Elias Bou Saab over this issue.

However, this file was not tackled “because it needs to be dealt with carefully,” Jreij explained.

LBCI television said during the session that the contentious appointments file is facing difficulties, and that negotiations are ongoing to find solutions.

Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil remarked that the problem faced by ministers was not in appointing deans, but contract professors whose numbers have risen from 500 to 1,000.

MTV, meanwhile, said the opposition of several ministers prevented the appointments of the Lebanese University's deans and professors during Friday's session.

Also in the ministerial meeting, a decree was signed to naturalize more than 600 people.

It was one of many decrees approved by Salam hours before the end of Suleiman's term, MTV revealed.

Friday's session was the last one to be held under the chairmanship of President Suleiman, whose tenure ends on Sunday.

The outgoing president held a meeting with Premier Salam prior to the cabinet's session and the latter offered Suleiman an honorary shield to praise his work in office in the past six years.

"We wished the president the best (after his term ends) and we hoped he would remain a national reference,” Jreij told reporters.

He also assured that ministers agreed on cooperating with the cabinet, amid uncertainty over Christian figures participation in ministerial and parliamentary sessions during the expected presidential vacuum.

But Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb confirmed his own participation in the cabinet's work.

“I am a Christian minister and I will not boycott the cabinet's sessions,” he said.

Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, however, expressed that the cabinet's work “will not continue in the same way during the presidential vacuum.”

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