BEIRUT: Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan Thursday revealed that the Syrian refugee crisis has cost Lebanon $10 billion in losses, calling on the international community to increase aid to the country.
“The duty of governments is to preserve sovereignty, independence and borders, and promote all sectors, especially the industrial sector," Hajj Hasan said during an event commemorating the National Lebanese Trade Day. "I want to hold everyone present here responsible for reflecting Lebanon’s harsh reality on the economic level.”
Lebanon has become home to 1.1 million registered Syrian refugees since the civil war erupted in 2011. The huge influx of refugees has put an enormous strain on the Lebanese economy and infrastructure.
“Lebanon is passing through a difficult phase socially and economically and the signs are not reassuring. The situation is worsening with Lebanon hosting Syrian refugees,” he said.
“How could we employ the Lebanese first, then Syrians second if we didn’t have a good environment for the investors,” Hajj Hasan asked.
Hajj Hasan said he hoped Lebanese exports would increase by $5 billion and imports decrease to $16 billion to compensate for the trade deficit.
“We thank the Arab and European countries for helping us deal with the Syrian refugee crisis and we call on them to increase it, adopt a fair trade and increase Lebanese exports.”