The European Union reiterates its position that it has never advocated for a settlement or integration of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. We agree with our Lebanese counterparts that their stay in Lebanon is temporary. We also agree that returns should happen in so far as they are voluntary, dignified, safe, and in line with international law.
It is not the decision of the European Union for Syrian refugees to stay in Lebanon or to leave the country. In this regard, we welcome the reassurances received by the Lebanese Government that it remains committed to upholding its obligations under international human rights law.
The European Union acknowledges that Lebanon has shown extraordinary hospitality towards people fleeing conflict in Syria, and has been carrying an enormous burden since the outbreak of the conflict. We also believe that Lebanon should not carry this burden alone. It is our common responsibility to cater for the needs of the refugees, while supporting the communities hosting them.
This is why, in order to mitigate the impact of the refugee presence on the country's economy and infrastructure, the European Union has considerably stepped up its support to Lebanon. We provide significant assistance to the Lebanese communities affected by the refugee presence, including the delivery of basic services, improving local infrastructure, education and health.
Programmes funded by the European Union in Lebanon have been decided upon in consultation with the Government of Lebanon. They are not designed to incentivise the stay of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, but to address the basic needs of all vulnerable people. Our assistance has helped build new healthcare centres and improve access to basic health services for both Lebanese and Syrians in need. It has helped improve the infrastructure and the quality of education provided by Lebanese public schools. It has helped upgrade many other kind of infrastructure such as wastewater treatment, all of which will profit the Lebanese and outlast the Syrian conflict. Since 2011, the EU assistance has reached 1.8 billion Euros.