Jakarta. Indonesia will seek ways to help address the overflow of Syrian refugees into Lebanon, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Monday (26/02).
“We will see how far we can participate and contribute to help address the issue of Syrian refugees,” Retno said, as seen by the Jakarta Globe in a video issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to a report published by the United Nations, there were around 1 million registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon in 2017.
During a bilateral meeting with Lebanon’s foreign minister, Gebran Bassil, Retno said her counterpart also touched on the overflow of refugees from Syria and other conflict areas in the Middle East as one of his country’s greatest challenges.
Last week, Retno held a meeting with representatives from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Jakarta.
“Last week I held a meeting with UNRWA to address the issue of Palestinian refugees, where I conveyed our commitment to increased contribution for the agency,” Retno said.
Indonesia’s role in the refugee crisis, according to Retno, has been focused on Palestine, including by providing peacekeepers in Lebanon, where many Palestinian refugees also live.
However, as the world’s largest Muslim-majority country seeks to strengthen bilateral ties with Lebanon, Indonesia may increase its support in resolving the refugee issue.
A new UN survey revealed Syrian refugees in Lebanon are “more vulnerable than ever.”
“…More than half [of Syrian refugees in Lebanon are] now living in extreme poverty and over three quarters [are] living below the poverty line,” the statement said.
Retno and Bassil also discussed efforts to increase trade between the two countries during their meeting.
Bilateral trade was worth more than $78 million between January and November last year, with Indonesia’s surplus valued close to $77 million.
Visiting Indonesian Peacekeepers
As part of her visit to Lebanon, Retno also met with Indonesian peacekeepers that form part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil).
Indonesia is the largest contributor to the mission, consisting of nearly 1,300 personnel.