– As delivered –
Statement by H.E. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
10 August 2020
His Excellency, Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations,
Mr. Charbel Wehbe, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lebanon,
Mr. Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator,
Ms. Najat Rochdi, UN Deputy Special Coordinator, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon,
Mr. David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme,
Her Excellency, Ms. Ambassador Anne Gueguen, Chargé d’affaires, Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations in New York
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for organizing this virtual briefing on the humanitarian situation in Lebanon.
Let me begin by extending my heartfelt condolences to the people and Government of Lebanon, most especially families of those that lost their lives in the horrific explosion that rocked the port of Beirut on 4 August 2020. My thoughts and prayers are with all who are suffering. To those injured in the blast, I wish you a speedy recovery.
The images streaming in from Beirut shook our hearts. The devastating impact of last week’s tragedy makes it imperative for the international community to stand beside the people of Lebanon who have generously hosted thousands of refugees for years. We must respond by providing the necessary humanitarian assistance to alleviate the immediate suffering and to support the Lebanese people as they embark on the road to recovery. The needs are enormous and great.
Lebanon has faced multiple challenges in recent times, among them economic hardship and the COVID-19 pandemic. This tragic incident has only worsened an already difficult situation. We must mobilize all assistance we can to enable the country to wade through these difficult times and come out of the current crisis much stronger.
I wish to express my appreciation to the Government of France for co-convening yesterday’s International Conference on Support to Beirut and the Lebanese People. My thanks to all countries that have already responded by extending financial and medical assistance to Lebanon. I urge others to follow suit by funding the ongoing humanitarian response.
I welcome the efforts by the World Bank, which in its recent announcement, promised to reprogram existing resources and explore additional financing to support rebuilding lives and livelihoods of people impacted by the crisis. This, indeed, is crucial to facilitating recovery efforts, as well as to strengthening the resilience of the people and the country of Lebanon in general.
The swiftness of the global response, underscored by the outpouring of solidarity that has continued to trail the incident, demonstrates that multilateralism is not only viable for resolving conflict and building consensus, but that it is also a veritable means for supporting one another in times of need. We should remain steadfast in our collective determination to provide the necessary help and support to prevent crises of this magnitude in the future.
The blast that ripped through Beirut last week has left behind a trail of death and destruction. I acknowledge with deep admiration and gratitude the efforts by humanitarian workers providing search-and-rescue, medical care, shelter and other essential needs. As always, the first on the ground, their tireless work to help those in need reflects the very best of humanity.
We must mobilize all assistance we can to enable the country to wade through these difficult times and come out of the current crisis much stronger.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The people of Lebanon have shown us the true spirit of their proud country. In the days since the deadly explosion, we have been deeply moved by the images of Lebanese citizens picking up the pieces – extending acts of kindness and solidarity towards their neighbours who have lost everything, and wielding shovels and brooms to clear the rubble from their streets. It is upon us to band together and ensure that they will not have to shoulder this burden alone.
I thank you.