While thanking Lebanon’s partners for their efforts to support the country in the face of numerous challenges, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today highlighted the need for even greater assistance, particularly as the country deals with the Syrian refugee crisis.
“The response has been significant. I welcome the generous support of donors – but this has not matched the country’s exceptional needs,” Mr. Ban told a ministerial meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon, held at United Nations Headquarters on the margins of the annual debate of the General Assembly.
Since the conflict in Syria began over four years ago, over 1 million refugees have arrived in Lebanon. Syrian refugees now make up 25 per cent of the population of Lebanon.
“Lebanon needs more support for local public institutions, especially municipalities which have to continue delivering basic services and maintaining a peaceful environment for refugees and host communities. The rights and safety of refugees who have fled to Lebanon need to continue to be guaranteed,” Mr. Ban stated.
“Resources are insufficient. Needs are rising. If we do not bridge this gap, there will be far-reaching consequences for the region and beyond.”
The Secretary-General encouraged bilateral partners to expedite support where the Lebanese Armed Forces need it most so that they can effectively address security threats.
Another area of concern highlighted during the meeting, which was attended by Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam, was the 16-month vacancy in the country’s presidency, which the Group noted “seriously impairs” Lebanon’s ability to address the security, economic, social and humanitarian challenges facing the country.
In a chairman’s summary issued after the meeting, the Group stressed that if strong international support is to contribute effectively to sustained stability, it must be paralleled by determined action by Lebanon’s leaders to resolve the political stalemate through the election of a president without further delay, to restore a fully functioning government, and to respond to citizens’ needs through the provision of effective state services.
“The international community has a deep investment in Lebanon,” Mr. Ban stressed. “The country has always stood as a symbol of co-existence. Stability there can help the increasingly fractured region.”
In addition to Lebanon, the following participants were invited to the meeting: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Italy, the European Union, and the League of Arab States.