Deputy Secretary-General: Statements
Bkirki, Lebanon, 16 December 2014 - Deputy Secretary-General's Statement after meeting with Maronite Patriarch for Antioch and the East Bechara Boutros El-Rai
I was very glad to see our Lady of Lebanon at Harissa on my way to Bkirki. I just had a good conversation with Patriarch El-Rai and the Archbishop. We discussed the many issues that are important for Lebanon and also for the United Nations. We of course exchanged views on the refugee situation and the strains that Lebanese society feels. This morning I went to a school where I experienced the importance of helping institutions like schools, health and so on to be prepared for this enormous pressure. But we also expanded our conversation to the situation for refugees in the whole area in the Middle East, and not least the many exposed Christian communities not only in Syria but now growingly in Iraq. I have also recently visited Iraq and also Iran. In Iraq I saw some really heart-breaking situations. I met people who had been exposed to severe violence and atrocities and who had fled from areas that are controlled by Daesh (ISIL). Even my own country Sweden has seen many refugees coming from the region including minorities that are persecuted in ISIL-dominated areas. Unfortunately we have also witnessed a worsening situation for Christian communities in the Middle East for a long time. I believe this is a very dangerous trend. We have to co-exist together and that is why Lebanon’s example is so important. In my meetings with the Prime Minister and also other members of the leadership of this country I made the point that the United Nations stands at the side of Lebanon for dealing with the refugee crisis but also for dealing with the basic issue of the society that has to live together across faiths and across ethnic backgrounds. And Lebanon has gone through difficult periods but you have had a resilience and a strength that we are very much impressed by.
One problem that His Beatitude the Patriarch Rai and I discussed was of course the fact that there has been a vacancy in the presidency for so long. I agreed with him that this vacancy is causing problems. It Is important that institutions are in place and that they function. I hope that it will possible to find a formula to find a Head of State that represents Lebanon. I am sure that with the Lebanese innovative minds and, hopefully, the sense of responsibility of all leaders that they would come together to find a consensus candidate. This is of course a Lebanese matter. It is not for us or the outside to find a formula. It is up to the Lebanese to find a solution. But I think that it will be very helpful not only for the Lebanese society but also for Lebanon’s position in the world if this matter is resolved. There are those who say that the situation is influenced by the outside. That is possible but I also think that it could be solved if you have unity among the different actors in Lebanon and that in the interest of the nation.
Statements on 16 December 2014