A United Nations envoy has lauded Lebanon for its commitment to stability and security, as well as for its assistance to Syrian refugees, adding that increased support for them would be needed for the onset of winter.
“Strong focus on security and stability in Lebanon are a core concern,” the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, told reporters on Thursday after briefing the Security Council on the implementation of resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese group Hizbollah.
The resolution calls for respect for the so-called ‘Blue Line’ between Israel and Lebanon, the disarming of all militias in Lebanon, and an end to arms smuggling in the area. While the resolution has largely been respected over the past six years, there has been little progress towards an envisaged permanent ceasefire.
“Council Members showed satisfaction with the calm which prevailed across the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon including during the recent conflict in Gaza, but they also expressed their concern that we move forward to implement and to act on some of the outstanding provisions of the resolution,” Mr. Plumbly said.
He added that many of the current issues of security and stability in the country are linked to the ongoing crisis in Syria, and stressed the importance of Lebanon’s policy of disassociation, which has helped sustain calm in the country against the backdrop of the Syrian conflict.
Syria has been wracked by violence, with at least 20,000 people, mostly civilians, killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 21 months ago. The violence has spawned more than 460,000 refugees, while more than 2.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to UN estimates.
Mr. Plumbly also drew attention to challenges faced by the Lebanese Government and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as the number of Syrian refugees in the country continues to increase and winter sets in.
“Some 130,000 people are currently seeking refuge from Syria in Lebanon – the Government of Lebanon deserves great credit for the reception that has been accorded to displaced people from Syria as do the communities who have given them a home,” Mr. Plumbly stated. “But the needs of the refugee community are particularly pressing at the present moment.”
Mr. Plumbly added that the Government of Lebanon and UNHCR will be looking for additional assistance from the international community. “This is something which all concerned hope will elicit a strong and generous response,” he said.