Cabinet approves Norwegian donation to assist displaced Syrians

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The Lebanese cabinet convened on Wednesday and approved a donation from the Norwegian government to support the efforts to assist displaced Syrians in Lebanon.

Following the meeting, Information Minister Walid al-Daouq said that the council also approved proposals to resolve the “suffering of residents in Baalbek-Hermel,” after security forces had destroyed their hashish fields.

Daouq also said that “talks have confirmed that the ten Lebanese abductees [in Syria] were fine,” adding that PM Najib Miqati had said that the government was making efforts to return all Lebanese abductees, including the 10 pilgrims.

In May, 11 Shiite pilgrims were kidnapped in Syria while on their way to Lebanon from Iran.

Following the abduction, a previously unknown armed group calling itself the "Syrian Revolutionaries – Aleppo Province" said that it was holding the Shiite men, while the Free Syrian Army had repeatedly denied its involvement in the abduction.

One of the pilgrims, Hussein Ali Omar, was released on Saturday.

Turning to the situation in North Lebanon’s Tripoli, Daouq said that Prime Minister Najib Miqati stated that restoring calm to the city will help “resume development projects” in it following last week’s violent clashes that left at least 15 people dead.

In turn, Miqati commented on the issue pertaining to missing Lebanese nationals in Syria at the beginning the session, saying that Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi will follow up on the case, the NNA reported. The prime minister voiced his “complete support for the Lebanese army and security forces to control the situation [in Tripoli] and prevent anyone from covering up violations.”  

Miqati said that the Lebanese judicial authority have started taking actions to detain people involved in Tripoli’s violence, adding that some culprits have been arrested.

He also said that the Higher Relief Commission will be tasked, after calm settles over Tripoli, with inspecting the losses that have been inflicted on the city; thus paving the way towards compensations.

Furthermore, Miqati commented on the issue of missing Lebanese nationals in Syria at the beginning the session, saying that Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi was following up on the case.

He added that the council of ministers will “soon” receive an amended draft proposal to form the so-called Independent National Commission.

The commission will be tasked with probing the fate of the missing Lebanese nationals.

Rights groups have said that thousands of Lebanese nationals were arbitrarily detained and sent to Syrian prisons after the start of the Lebanese civil war and the Syrian entry into the country. 

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Miqati also condemned the tit-for-tat kidnappings that have taken place in the country.