The option of disbursing aid to Syrian refugees in US dollars continues to stir controversy, as revealed by the Caretaker Minister of Social Affairs Hector Hajjar who announced in a press conference on Friday that this would create tensions with Lebanese hosting communities, especially in disadvantaged areas.

Hajjar stressed that the organization of the refugees’ presence in Lebanon falls under his ministry’s prerogatives in coordination with the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), reiterating that cash assistance to the refugees should be made in the local currency.

“There was a disagreement in that regard and we refused to give 40 dollars to the families according to the request of the high commission,” the minister continued, pointing out that the request for the dollarization of aid was made under the pretext that ATMs cannot disburse large amounts in Lebanese pounds.

Hajjar argued that the refusal is aimed at preventing tensions between refugees and the Lebanese people who “would compare the aid granted to the displaced with the modest sums to which they are entitled.”

He also stressed that he is working for the repatriation of Syrian refugees, asking “that financial aid be paid to them in Syria to encourage them to return home.”

Earlier on Friday, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Lebanon Imran Riza declared, after a meeting with Caretaker Prime Minister Nagib Mikati, that he “will work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Program to develop a formula that allows us to progress at this level in accordance with the aspirations of the Prime Minister and the Lebanese State.”