I am pleased to convey my greetings to this meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon. I thank the German government for hosting and recognize Prime Minister Salam for his leadership.
Last month in New York, this Group expressed concern about the severe and growing challenges facing Lebanon as a result of the conflict in Syria. Continuing pressure on Lebanon’s eastern border and the weekend’s attacks on the Lebanese army in Tripoli have further highlighted the threat.
The unity of this Group – and indeed of the Security Council- in support of Lebanon’s stability and leaders has sent a strong signal. This complements the progress reflected in the present government. I hope that unity will soon be reinforced by the election of a new President.
This Group has consistently highlighted Lebanon’s need for international assistance for the Lebanese Armed Forces; for Syrian refugees and the communities hosting them; and for affected government programmes.
I welcome this meeting’s focus on the refugee presence in Lebanon. I understand certain anxieties about the scale of the Syrian refugee presence, and note the tensions in some communities. I also note recent policy decisions announced by the Government. I stress the continuing importance of close cooperation between the Government and UNHCR in managing the refugee presence effectively and in accordance with international humanitarian standards and human rights.
I look forward to the outcome of your discussions. I am very concerned at the shortfall in funding and hope your conclusions and those of the conference will encourage more stable and predictable funding from humanitarian and development sources. I also hope for further support to initiatives for resettlement of Syrian refugees.
Lebanon is a beacon of tolerance and co-existence in the region. Easing the situation imposed by a crisis now in its fourth year is essential to Lebanon’s continued stability.
I extend my best wishes for a successful meeting.