World

Lebanon limits entry of Syrians as asylum seekers fleeing the Syria war strain fragile country

  • FILE  - In this Thursday, May 29, 2014 file, a Syrian refugee girl sits in a classroom at a Lebanese public school where only Syrian students attend classes in the afternoon, at Kaitaa village in north Lebanon. Lebanon began limiting the flow of Syrians entering the country on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, placing unprecedented restrictions on their entry, as it struggles to cope with a flood of asylum seekers fleeing the civil war next door. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

    FILE - In this Thursday, May 29, 2014 file, a Syrian refugee girl sits in a classroom at a Lebanese public school where only Syrian students attend classes in the afternoon, at Kaitaa village in north Lebanon. Lebanon began limiting the flow of Syrians entering the country on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, placing unprecedented restrictions on their entry, as it struggles to cope with a flood of asylum seekers fleeing the civil war next door. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Thursday, May 29, 2014 file photo, a Syrian refugee girl stands in the corridor of a collective center where she lives with her family, in Kirbet Daoud village in Akkar, north Lebanon. Lebanon began limiting the flow of Syrians entering the country on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, placing unprecedented restrictions on their entry, as it struggles to cope with a flood of asylum seekers fleeing the civil war next door. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File )

    FILE - In this Thursday, May 29, 2014 file photo, a Syrian refugee girl stands in the corridor of a collective center where she lives with her family, in Kirbet Daoud village in Akkar, north Lebanon. Lebanon began limiting the flow of Syrians entering the country on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, placing unprecedented restrictions on their entry, as it struggles to cope with a flood of asylum seekers fleeing the civil war next door. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File )  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this June 6, 2014 photo, Chilean clown Claudio, right, and American clown David Clay, left, members of "Clowns Without Borders," perform for children at a Syrian refugee camp in the eastern town of Chtoura, in Bekaa valley, Lebanon. The children are among the more than 1 million Syrians who have flooded into Lebanon over the past three years, fleeing the violence that has ripped apart their homeland. Lebanon began limiting the flow of Syrians entering the country on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, placing unprecedented restrictions on their entry, as it struggles to cope with a flood of asylum seekers fleeing the civil war next door.  (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein, File)

    FILE - In this June 6, 2014 photo, Chilean clown Claudio, right, and American clown David Clay, left, members of "Clowns Without Borders," perform for children at a Syrian refugee camp in the eastern town of Chtoura, in Bekaa valley, Lebanon. The children are among the more than 1 million Syrians who have flooded into Lebanon over the past three years, fleeing the violence that has ripped apart their homeland. Lebanon began limiting the flow of Syrians entering the country on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, placing unprecedented restrictions on their entry, as it struggles to cope with a flood of asylum seekers fleeing the civil war next door. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein, File)  (The Associated Press)

Lebanon has begun limiting the flow of Syrians entering the country as it struggles to cope with a flood of asylum seekers fleeing the civil war next door.

The unprecedented restrictions that went into effect Monday establish new categories of entry visas for Syrians and sharply limit the period of time they may stay in Lebanon.

Lebanese officials say the new restrictions are necessary because their tiny country simply can't absorb more refugees. They estimate there are about 1.5 million Syrians in Lebanon, about one-quarter of the total population.

But the new restrictions, published on Lebanon's general security website, seemingly make no provisions for asylum seekers.

A security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to press, said urgent humanitarian cases could still enter.