French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (L) greets Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam as they meet for bilateral talks at the 52nd Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, southern Germany, on February 13, 2016. / AFP / THOMAS KIENZLE
BEIRUT: The Middle East is living in a state of chaos as major world powers are reluctant to find radical solutions to the current crises, especially in Syria, Prime Minister Tammam Salam said Sunday.
“Major powers have and still are maneuvering … remarks we heard yesterday [from world leaders] regarding Syria assures us that we cannot be optimistic, as the situation is actually getting worse,” Salam said from Germany, wrapping up his visit at the 52nd Munich Security Conference.
He said that the influx of Syrian refugees in Europe had worsened due to world powers ignoring the problem years ago when it was contained in Syria’s neighboring countries. The Lebanese premier added that the current situation could have been prevented had more political and diplomatic efforts been exerted earlier on in Syria.
The UNHCR says that over 3 million Syrians have fled to the country’s closest neighbors, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Around 6.5 million are also said to be displaced within Syria. The U.N. agency has registered around 1.1 million refugees in Lebanon alone. However, the Lebanese government puts the actual number much higher, placing massive pressure on an already weak infrastructure.
Europe began witnessing a wave of immigrants and refugees, mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, entering its territory late last year, before nations began tightening border controls. Many have ended up in Scandinavia, Germany and Eastern Europe, or have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea attempting to reach Greece and Italy by boat.
Salam touched on the repercussions that Lebanon is facing due to the large number of refugees on its soil, saying that donor countries have not always upheld their commitments made in conferences that aim to help Syria’s neighbors handle the crisis.
“I hope that commitments made in [The Supporting Syria and the Region] London conference are applied, where donations reached $11 billion,” Salam concluded, calling for the establishment of a special body to overlook implementations.
Salam said that combatting extremism and terrorism in the region should take place through support for moderation.
“The key to this issue is achieving a peaceful settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on the two-state solution,” Salam said.
The premier retuned to Beirut later Sunday.