Lebanon feeling strain from Syrian war

March 5, 2013 at 10:30 AM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, March 5 (UPI) -- Lebanon is feeling increasing strain due to refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war, Europe's neighborhood policy chief said Tuesday.

European Neighborhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Fule arrived in Beirut to discuss ways in which the European Union could help Lebanon cope with the fallout from the Syrian war.

"Lebanon receives the highest number of people fleeing the horrible bloodshed in Syria and we know that it puts this country under enormous strain," he said in a statement.

Syria's war has threatened to spill into neighboring Lebanon. The European Union estimates that, since of the end of February, more than 325,000 Syrian nationals have fled to Lebanon.

Fule said Europe was helping Lebanon cope with an estimated $39 million in assistance.

"The hospitality and generosity displayed by the Lebanese toward their neighbors is admirable and commendable," he said.

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said he was concerned about stability in his country given regional strife. Nabih's March 8 coalition, which includes members of Hezbollah, said there are growing signs of an al-Qaida presence in Lebanon, The Daily Star newspaper reports.

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