Hariri discusses Syrian refugees and granting nationality to Lebanese women’s children with Human Rights Watch

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri received this afternoon at the Center House a delegation from Human Rights Watch headed by its Executive Director Kenneth Roth, in the presence of MP Roula Tabsh.

After the meeting, Roth said: Human Rights Watch just had a very productive meeting with the Prime Minister. We focused on four areas.

We discussed the next steps in the waste management crisis and how we can make sure that there is a real community consensus about what's required.

We spoke about the importance of really taking the opportunity created by the National Human Rights Institute to address the problem of torture and make sure that the moves to stop torture end up attacking torture in reality.

We discussed the problem of Lebanese women married to non-Lebanese men being unable to confer nationality to their family. We understand that there has been long-standing fears that granting this right and ending this discrimination against women would somehow change the demographic balance of Lebanon. In fact, that is a complete exaggeration from the statistics that everybody knows regarding how small a problem it is. It is a big problem for these women and their children. We discussed some practical ways forward, perhaps even a passport that has some limited rights but at least gives these children the ability to travel and the security of knowing they are Lebanese in their home country.

Finally, we talked about the issue of Syrian refugees. We all agree that it is premature to send anybody back to Syria where Assad's prisons remain filled, where people are being tortured and executed. The real question is, while the refugees are in Lebanon, how do we make sure that they are not so miserable that they are effectively forced back.

He added: The biggest problem has been the difficulty of people paying the 200 dollars per six months fee to be registered. While the government has issued a waiver of that fee in certain cases, there are some big exceptions, which large numbers, probably half the refugees, are falling through. They are afraid to travel, they have difficulty sending their kids to school and accessing healthcare. That is not in anybody's interest. It's not in Lebanon's interest to have an uneducated group of children, and not to know where these people are because they are not registered.

He concluded: We discussed what it would take to make sure that this waiver of 200 dollars fee applies across the board, so everybody has the basic necessities of life while they are in Lebanon, while they wait for things to improve in Syria.

Winning students

Separately, Hariri said that the future will be better for the youth, for Lebanon and for all the Lebanese regions. He added: If I have any hope for a better future for Lebanon it is with the youth who are the pulse of this country.

Hariri was addressing this evening at the Center House a group of Future movement students at the Lebanese American University after their victory in the LAU students' elections. The group was accompanied by the leader of the Future youth sector Mohamad Saad and the student body leader Bakr Halawi.

Hariri congratulated the winners and all those who worked to achieve this result. He said: When Martyr Prime Minister sent the youth to study abroad during the war, he did that because he believed that they are the future of Lebanon. Today, you have the chance to study in your country and we have to manage it well. When you graduate, you will help me improve the situation in Lebanon so that we see it as you want it, as Rafic Hariri dreamed of it and worked for it, a country that has an economy, development and employment opportunities for the youth.

He concluded: The enthusiasm you have is the basis. Do not let anyone frustrate you. You can realize achievements, because we know what we want for this country and we know what to do.

Hariri also met with MP Dima Jamali accompanied by a French delegation headed by the French Senator Nathalie Goulet. After the meeting, Jamali said that the delegation presented to Hariri the solutions they found to a number of environmental problems to examine the possibility of applying them in Lebanon.

Source: National News Agency