Wednesday, March 27, 2019

President Michel Aoun has been quite outspoken regarding Syrian refugees: there is no future for them in Lebanon. President Aoun and a majority of the country’s leadership say that the Syrian refugees should return to Syria without waiting for an overarching political settlement that satisfies the UN. As he noted this past week in meeting with the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, “We worry about the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland. The international community is postponing their return to an unknown timing,” said Aoun. “Lebanon’s infrastructure including electricity, water, hospitals, and schools have been tremendously impacted by this crisis,” repeating his message to the Brussels III donors conference.

“We must work seriously to take refugees back...

Thursday, March 21, 2019

While there are disagreements among the Lebanese about the repatriation of the Syrian refugees, there is broad consensus that they should leave and not remain to upend the status quo any further. Given the Lebanese history of dealing with the Palestinians, who even 50+ years later are not welcomed formally into Lebanese society, the question boils down to repatriation versus inclusion, with the latter alternative not favored by any of the major political groups in the country.

At the recent Brussels III conference on the refugees in the region, a looming scepter was the often-quoted statistic that the average stay for refugees in a host country is 17-25 years, something that none of the host countries – Jordan, Lebanon, or Turkey, is willing to accept let alone acknowledge. While Turkey and...

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Perhaps the Interministerial delegate to the Mediterranean in charge of the preparation of the CEDRE conference, Ambassador Pierre Dukan (Duquesne), summarized the situation accurately when he noted in a press conference following a meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri, “Concerning the reforms, there are both sectoral reforms that are simply useful for the projects to be put in place properly. In addition, there are reforms that are more macro-economic, more substantial, and indispensable. At the crossroads of the two, there is the reform of the energy sector, which is a macroeconomic problem - the accumulated deficits of Electricité du Liban weigh heavily on the Lebanese public finances. And without electricity 24 hours a day, it is difficult to imagine that investments in any sector o...

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Among the top issues consistently mentioned by the Lebanese is access to quality education that prepares their children for the labor market. A startling fact is that more children are enrolled in primary schools run by the NGO sector and the private sector than in public schools in Lebanon, and the government contributes to the upkeep of these schools.

As this article issued by the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS) mentioned, “In terms of quality, the much praised output of the Lebanese education system is the average of two worlds: A high performing private sector and a laggard public sector. Many Lebanese children terminate their studies ill-equipped at the brevet level and, being unable to emigrate, are thrown into the lowest segments of the informal sector that has always been...

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