Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today deplored the killing of two Lebanese Red Cross workers and the wounding of a member of delegation of clerics at a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon that has been the scene of fierce fighting for three weeks.
Mr. Ban “hopes the Lebanese authorities will fully investigate the matter” and offers his condolences to the families of the victims, his spokesperson said in a statement.
Media reports say the Red Cross workers were evacuating civilians from Nahr al-Bared camp when they were hit by either machine gun or shell fire, while the cleric was trying to broker a truce to the fighting when he was hit in a separate incident.
Fighting erupted on 20 May between Fatah al-Islam gunmen at the camp and Lebanese armed forces, and dozens of people – including numerous civilians – have been killed in the clashes. The vast majority of the camp’s population of about 31,000 people have since fled.
In today’s statement Mr. Ban said he remained deeply concerned about the security of the estimated 3,000 civilians who have stayed in Nahr al-Bared and “reminds all parties to do their utmost to ensure the protection of civilians in armed conflict.”
In a separate statement read out by Ambassador Johan Verbeke of Belgium, which holds the Security Council’s rotating presidency this month, Council members condemned “the ongoing criminal and terrorist acts in Lebanon, including those perpetrated by Fatah al-Islam, and fully supports the efforts carried out by the Lebanese Government and army to ensure security and stability throughout Lebanon.”
The presidential statement, adopted in reaction to the fifth report on the implementation of Council resolution 1559, stressed the need to protect the civilian population in Lebanon, including the many Palestinian refugees, and reiterated there should be no weapons in the country without the consent of its Government.
The statement emphasized the Council’s full support for “the legitimate and democratically-elected Government of Lebanon” and deplored any attempt to destabilize the nation.
It also reaffirmed the 15-member body’s “deep concern at mounting information by Israel and other States of illegal movements of arms into Lebanon, and in particular across the Lebanese-Syrian border, and looks forward to the conclusions of the Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team,” which has been dispatched to the country.