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K. Habib: Address to World Summit 2017

Address to World Summit 2017, Seoul, Korea, February 1 to 5, 2017


Unlike many countries in the Arab region, the state of Lebanon still exists and the state institutions, among them, the government, are still functioning. We have unfortunately and tragically been witnessing a constant breakup of the state and its institutions and the disintegration of national armies in many countries, including Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

In Lebanon, we have succeeded in navigating through troubled waters. Our army and security agencies are on the frontline in the fight against terrorism. United, we reject extremism and intolerance. We have sustained the influx of Syrian refugees despite the fact that one in four people in Lebanon today is a refugee.

Despite all the gloomy images and barbaric videos shown and broadcasted on YouTube, Lebanon remains a country of tolerance and freedom and an incubator of ideas. We are committed to protecting and preserving our Lebanon and seek to create peace all together.

Regarding the Syrian refugee crisis, I believe that this crisis is one of the biggest refugee crises ever witnessed in history. The pictures today of the illegal migrants trying to cross into Europe is an indicator of the crisis. More than 700,000 illegal migrants tried to cross into Europe in the last two years by traveling across the Mediterranean to Italy and Greece. Five hundred thousand of them, 60 percent of whom were Syrians, tried to cross into Greece.

Today, Lebanon is one of the countries that has suffered the most from the refugee crisis.

The magnitude of the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon can be summarized in this way:

  • Since March 2011, the number of people residing in Lebanon has increased by at least 30 percent.
  • The number of Syrians residing in Lebanon has reached 1.8 million
  • Today, one in four people in Lebanon is a refugee.
  • Fifty thousand (50,000) Lebanese have returned from Syria.
  • Around 50,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria have moved to Lebanon since 2011. Sixteen percent (16 percent) of Syrian refugees live in 2,000 informal settlements.
  • Twenty-six percent (26 percent) of prisoners in Lebanon are Syrian nationals. The incidence of human trafficking of Syrians and Palestinians from Syria has increased significantly.
  • Eighty-six percent (86 percent) of Syrian refugees live in 242 poor villages in Lebanon.
  • The Lebanese and Syrians are becoming partners in deprivation.

Since March 2011, the economic losses due to the crisis in Syria have exceeded $7.5 billion.

Also, since 2011, the labor force in Lebanon has increased by 50 percent and unemployment has doubled.

A central concern is that the different economic, social and developmental challenges do not turn into political and security risks. The Lebanese government is working closely with local and international NGOs and international organizations.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that denunciation and determination are no longer sufficient responses to the terrible acts of terrorism that are being committed in the Arab region. We believe that new strategies and plans should be formulated to confront terrorism and terrorist groups. Concrete efforts should take place at the local, regional and international levels.

The fight against radicalization and religious intolerance should not only rely on security and military measures. We need to encourage an inclusive political process, and we need comprehensive economic development strategies to win the hearts and minds of the people. We also need to work with courageous religious figures and preachers.

I would like to express my gratitude once again for this invitation and for the opportunity to be among you. Hopefully, next time we meet, I will be able to give you much more positive news about Lebanon and the Arab region.


Hon. Khodr Habib, Member of Parliament, Lebanon

Hon. Khodr Habib is a Member of Parliament, and a member of the Future Movement Party of Lebanon, which is a full member of the Liberal International. The Party includes, among many groups, Christians and Muslims. It has an important media presence in Lebanon and internationally.

To go to the 2017 World Summit Conference Schedule, click here.