BEIRUT – Lebanon's foreign ministry has summoned the country's top U.N. official over concerns that the international body is pressuring Lebanon to naturalize its large refugee population.
The foreign ministry pointed Friday to an April U.N. report that recommends that when "conditions are not conducive" to refugees returning home, host countries should examine offering them citizenship.
Naturalization is a sensitive topic in Lebanon, where over one in four residents is a refugee. The U.N. says the war in neighboring Syria, now in its sixth year, has sent over one million refugees to the tiny country. Human Rights Watch has accused Lebanon of criminalizing the refugee workforce and exploiting it for cheap labor.
The U.N.'s top official to Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag, says the report's recommendations are in line with the 1951 Refugee Convention.