A flood of Syrian refugees is causing strains between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon, reports Maronite Catholic Patriarch Bechara Rai.

The Maronite prelate told Aid to the Church in Need that while it is a humanitarian duty to assist the refugees, the huge number of arrivals from Syria—more than 1.5 million refugees, a number equal to roughly one-third of the entire population of Lebanon—has caused problems.


Most of the Syrian refugees are Sunni Muslims, the Patriarch said. “They can be exploited both politically and religiously by the Lebanese Sunnis.” He remarked that a similar influx of Palestinian Sunnis in the 1970s led to a civil war in Lebanon. “This could happen again,” he warned. “This is a ticking bomb.”

The need to provide for the refugee also strains the Lebanese economy, the Patriarch said. And the huge influx of Syrian refugees could eventually change the culture of Lebanon. He concluded that the continuation of the civil war in Syria threatens the future of his own country as well.

“The politicians need to understand that the war in Syria has to end,” the Lebanese Patriarch said. “The international community has to stop fomenting and fostering the war.”


Source: Catholic World News