ASIA/LEBANON - Former General Aoun: let us welcome Christians fleeing Syria

Beirut - Former general Michel Aoun, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement , has launched an appeal to the Lebanese authorities so that the entry of new refugees in Lebanon of Christian Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syrians fleeing areas of the Syrian province of Jazira, under attack by jihadists of the Islamic State is facilitated. According to the Lebanese political leader, the dynamics in place in the Middle East are causing the systematic exodus of indigenous Christian communities from the region where they were born since apostolic times.
"We do not want - said Aoun - that Christians find refuge in Europe and elsewhere. It is a crime to treat communities who have been living in the East for centuries in this way. Today we are facing a systematic uprooting of Christians in the East". The words of the former general were pronounced at the end of a meeting - which was also attended by representatives of the Maronite Church - convened to develop initiatives to support the families of the Assyrian refugees and facilitate their stay in Lebanon. The competent authorities have been asked not to oppose bureaucratic barriers to the entry of new Christian refugees in the Land of the Cedars.
According to what is reported in the Lebanese press, more than twenty Assyrian Christians fleeing the Syrian province of Jiazira are stationed at the crossing point of Masnaa, on the border between Syria and Lebanon, waiting to get permission to enter the Country. In past days, in Beirut, Assyrian and Chaldean Christians formed e a procession of solidarity with Christians kidnapped by jihadists in the villages of the valley of Khabur, and to reclaim their identity as "indigenous people of Mesopotamia".
The latest waves of Assyrian, Syrian and Chaldean immigration from Syria to Lebanon occurred in the 1970s and then in 2011, at the beginning of the uprisings against the Assad regime. The issue of welcoming Christians fleeing Syria is already the subject of talks between the members of the Lebanese government, after recent government regulations have restricted the access to the Lebanese territory by refugees from Syria. In recent days, according to reports from local organizations of support, Assyrian Christians and Syrians who arrived in Lebanon from the north-eastern areas of Syria are about 500. But that number looks set to increase in coming weeks.