Associated Press

May 20, 12:02 PM EDT

Lebanon's foreign ministry has expressed concern to the country's top U.N. official that the international body is pressuring Beirut to naturalize the large refugee population that has found shelter in tiny Lebanon


BEIRUT (AP) -- Lebanon's foreign ministry has expressed concerns to the country's top U.N. official that the international body is pressuring Beirut to naturalize the large refugee population that has found shelter in tiny Lebanon.

The foreign ministry on Friday cited an April U.N. report recommending that when "conditions are not conducive" to refugees returning home, host countries should examine offering them citizenship.

But this is a sensitive topic in Lebanon, where over one in four residents is a refugee.

Syria's war, now in its sixth year, has sent over one million refugees to tiny Lebanon. Human Rights Watch has accused Beirut 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.

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