European and Arab progressive leaders are meeting today and tomorrow in Beirut (Lebanon) for a two-day debate on the refugee situation organised by the Global Progressive Forum.
Since the beginning of the war in Syria over 1.1 million refugees have fled to Lebanon, adding to the large number of displaced Palestinians who have made this country their home so that refugees now make up over a quarter of Lebanon's population. According to the UNCHR, there are currently more than 1.5 million refugees in Lebanon.
Ahead the opening of the summit, and of the bilateral meeting with Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt, the S&D Group president, Gianni Pittella, stated:
"Europe's efforts are shameful in comparison to what Lebanon has done for decades; a continent of 500 million people has failed to welcome anywhere close to the number of refugees Lebanon has. We urge EU member states to fully implement the commitment made at the last Council to create a permanent and binding relocation mechanism. Reacting just as individual member states has been wholly ineffective and has been dangerous to the EU's stability".
The GPF delegation is in Lebanon for a two-day field visit to meet with local authorities, NGOs and volunteers, and discuss Europe's contribution to the relief efforts. The delegation will also travel to the Shatila refugee camp where they will see first-hand the incredible work being done by Lebanon to welcome refugees.
Participants at the meeting include MEPs Richard Howitt, Gilles Pargneaux, Marie Arena, Arne Lietz, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Cécile Kyenge, Pier Antonio Panzeri, and representatives from the Arab social democratic parties and from Solidar.