Lebanon's caretaker foreign minister escalated his row with the UN refugee agency UNHCR on Wednesday, accusing it at a news conference of working to stop refugees from returning to Syria.
UNHCR has denied the accusation, saying it supports the return of refugees when it is safe for them to go back to Syria and helps those who choose to return with their documentation.
"Their policy is to forbid the return," Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said. "The Lebanese policy is to encourage the return. Forbid, encourage. Stop, facilitate. That's it," Bassil said during the news conference in the town of Arsal, where he spoke alongside Syrian refugees.
"UNHCR does not forbid refugees from returning," Rula Amin, UNHCR's MENA region spokesperson sad in emailed comments to Reuters. "UNHCR's policy is clear on this matter: we respect people's free choices to return."