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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Statement

Secretary-General's remarks at inaugural meeting of the International support Group for Lebanon [bilingual, as delivered, version follows; scroll down for all-English version]

New York, 25 September 2013

I am pleased to convene this inaugural meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon in the presence of His Excellency President Michel Sleiman.

This initiative follows the July appeal by the Security Council for “strong, coordinated international support for Lebanon”  as well as your calls, Mr. President, for assistance in maintaining Lebanon’s stability and addressing the multiple challenges Lebanon now faces. 

The conflict in Syria has driven nearly 800,000 refugees from Syria to seek safety and assistance from the United Nations in Lebanon.  That figure is expected to surpass 1 million by the end of this year, an extraordinary challenge for any country to face.  I commend the Lebanese Government  and people for their openness and generosity in hosting the refugees.  The United Nations, through UNHCR and our partners, continues to work with the Lebanese authorities to keep up with the needs of the refugees
and host communities.   

The refugee presence, and the crisis in Syria more generally, are also placing significant pressure on Lebanon’s public services, infrastructure and economy. That impact has now been assessed in a joint study undertaken by the World Bank, the United Nations and the Lebanese Government.    

The High Commissioner for Refugees and the President of the World Bank will shortly speak to these issues. I would also like to draw attention to the profound repercussions the conflict is having on Lebanon’s security. This is another area where international support is essential.

The Lebanese Armed Forces and security services face unprecedented challenges in their efforts
to maintain security and stability internally, along the border with Syria and in the south along the Blue Line.

I condemn last month’s bombings in Beirut and Tripoli – acts of terrorism which killed dozens and wounded hundreds.
The situation along the border with Syria is dangerous, as local communities are exposed to shelling, rockets and small arms fire.

In the south, the Lebanese Armed Forces continue to uphold their obligation to work alongside UNIFIL in fulfilment of resolution 1701.

As the Lebanese themselves acknowledge, the Lebanese Armed Forces are stretched and insufficiently equipped to address these myriad tasks.  I welcome the adoption by Lebanon of a plan to ensure that the Armed Forces are equipped to respond effectively.

I have asked my Special Coordinator for Lebanon and the UNIFIL Force Commander to work closely with the Lebanese Armed Forces to deliver coordinated international support. I hope that the International Support Group will be at the heart of these efforts. 

La création de ce groupe d’appui montre que la communauté internationale est unie dans son attachement à la stabilité du Liban et à sa politique de non-implication dans les conflits régionaux. Elle démontre aussi que nous sommes déterminés à appuyer les institutions de l’État libanais.

Je tiens à rendre ici hommage à la direction éclairée du Président Sleiman, fondée sur la promotion
du dialogue, ainsi que sur la sauvegarde de la souveraineté, de l’unité et de la stabilité du Liban et de la pérennité de ses institutions.

Le Groupe d’appui international travaillera en étroite collaboration avec toutes les parties intéressées pour aider le Liban à gérer les répercussions de la crise syrienne qui le touchent le plus, notamment pour lui prêter assistance dans le domaine de l’aide aux réfugiés et aux populations qui les accueillent, apporter un appui structurel et financier à son gouvernement et contribuer au renforcement des capacités de ses forces armées. L’appui apporté dans ces domaines répondra aussi à des besoins du pays à plus long terme. Après notre réunion d’aujourd’hui, je compte sur vous pour coopérer étroitement avec mon Coordonnateur spécial pour le Liban, M. Derek Plumby, pour que les travaux du Groupe progressent dans chacun des domaines que j’ai cités.

The United Nations has an important and wide-ranging presence in Lebanon, and we are strongly committed to providing our utmost support.

I look forward to hearing from President Sleiman and others here today, and I thank all participants for your commitment to Lebanon’s stability and security. 

The inauguration of this International Support Group for Lebanon sends an important public signal
that the international community and the United Nations are standing with Lebanon at this time of heightened pressure.  I know that others are also ready to join as advocates to see Lebanon and its people
through this crisis and on to a better future. 

Thank you. Merci.

*****

All-English version

I am pleased to convene this inaugural meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon in the presence of His Excellency President Michel Sleiman.

This initiative follows the July appeal by the Security Council for “strong, coordinated international support for Lebanon” as well as your calls, Mr. President, for assistance in maintaining Lebanon’s stability and addressing the multiple challenges Lebanon now faces. 

The conflict in Syria has driven nearly 800,000 refugees from Syria to seek safety and assistance from the United Nations in Lebanon.  That figure is expected to surpass 1 million by the end of this year, an extraordinary challenge for any country to face.  I commend the Lebanese Government and people for their openness and generosity in hosting the refugees.  The United Nations, through UNHCR and our partners, continues to work with the Lebanese authorities to keep up with the needs of the refugees and host communities.   

The refugee presence, and the crisis in Syria more generally, are also placing significant pressure on Lebanon’s public services, infrastructure and economy. That impact has now been assessed in a joint study undertaken by the World Bank, the United Nations and the Lebanese Government.    

The High Commissioner for Refugees and the President of the World Bank will shortly speak to these issues. I would also like to draw attention to the profound repercussions the conflict is having on Lebanon’s security. This is another area where international support is essential.

The Lebanese Armed Forces and security services face unprecedented challenges in their efforts to maintain security and stability internally, along the border with Syria and in the south along the Blue Line.

I condemn last month’s bombings in Beirut and Tripoli – acts of terrorism which killed dozens and wounded hundreds.

The situation along the border with Syria is dangerous, as local communities are exposed to shelling, rockets and small arms fire.

In the south, the Lebanese Armed Forces continue to uphold their obligation to work alongside UNIFIL in fulfilment of resolution 1701.

As the Lebanese themselves acknowledge, the Lebanese Armed Forces are stretched and insufficiently equipped to address these myriad tasks.  I welcome the adoption by Lebanon of a plan to ensure that the Armed Forces are equipped to respond effectively.

I have asked my Special Coordinator for Lebanon and the UNIFIL Force Commander to work closely with the Lebanese Armed Forces to deliver coordinated international support. I hope that the International Support Group will be at the heart of these efforts.      

The creation of this International Support Group signals the international community’s united commitment to Lebanon’s stability and to the country’s policy of disassociation from regional conflicts.  It also underscores our commitment to supporting the institutions of the Lebanese State. Here, I wish to pay tribute to the wise leadership of President Sleiman in promoting dialogue and in upholding Lebanon’s sovereignty, unity and stability and the continuity of state institutions. 

The International Support Group will work closely with all stakeholders to assist Lebanon in those areas where it is being most affected by the Syrian crisis, including assistance to refugees and host communities, structural and financial support to the Government, and strengthening the capacity of the Lebanese Armed Forces.  Support in these areas will also contribute to the longer-term needs of the country.

Beyond our meeting today, I count on your close cooperation with my Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Mr. Derek Plumbly, to advance this Group’s work in each of these areas.

The United Nations has an important and wide-ranging presence in Lebanon, and we are strongly committed to providing our utmost support.

I look forward to hearing from President Sleiman and others here today, and I thank all participants for your commitment to Lebanon’s stability and security. 

The inauguration of this International Support Group for Lebanon sends an important public signal that the international community and the United Nations are standing with Lebanon at this time of heightened pressure.  I know that others are also ready to join as advocates to see Lebanon and its people through this crisis and on to a better future.

Thank you.  Merci.


Statements on 25 September 2013