Challenges facing Lebanon highlight urgent need to fill presidential vacuum – UN envoy

View of a neighbourhood in Tripoli, northern Lebanon. The Syrian conflict has worsened tensions. Photo: IRIN/Anja Pietsch

9 July 2014 – The United Nations envoy for Lebanon today stressed the urgent need for the country’s leaders to agree on the election of a new president as soon as possible in light of the situation on the ground, which is marked by renewed terrorist threats and the growing refugee population resulting from the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

“It is important, given the threats, the challenges that Lebanon faces, that the institutions of Government are all working,” Derek Plumbly, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, told reporters following a closed-door briefing to the Security Council.

There has been a presidential vacuum in Lebanon after the term of Michel Sleiman came to an end on 25 May. UN officials and the Security Council have repeatedly urged the Lebanese Parliament to elect a new leader without delay.

Mr. Plumbly emphasized that it is important that all of the institutions of government “function effectively” in Lebanon – the Presidency, the Government and the Parliament – if the country is to continue to address the various challenges it faces.

These include what he described as “very real” security threats, including the renewed threat of terrorist activities, as well as the growing number of refugees from Syria that have sought help in Lebanon.

As a result of the ongoing conflict in Syria, which is now in its fourth year, Lebanon has become the country with the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide. There are over 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and they are growing every day, putting more pressure on a host community that is already stretched to the breaking point.

Mr. Plumbly highlighted the need to ensure that Lebanon receives the support it needs from the international community to be able to continue to assist this growing population of vulnerable people.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his latest report on Lebanon, also highlighted the importance of this issue for the country.

“Hosting the largest number of refugees per capita in the world, Lebanon exhibits remarkable generosity under challenging circumstances. Additional funds are needed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, including women and girl refugees at risk, and to mitigate the severe stresses on host communities and public services,” he wrote in the report, which Mr. Plumbly presented to the Council today.

Meanwhile, with regard to the situation across the Lebanese-Israeli border, the envoy noted that the past four months have witnessed a continued calm along the so-called Blue Line.


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Lebanon: Security Council urges speedy election amid presidential vacuum

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