U.N. supports the Lebanese Army, stability – Plumbly
Oct. 25, 2014/ Mazin Sidahmed| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The United Nations supports the Lebanese Army’s effort to maintain Lebanon’s security, the Special Coordinator for Lebanon said at United Nations Day Friday. “[Supporting the Army] is a top priority,” Derek Plumbly told The Daily Star. “The secretary-general has emphasized it; we’ve worked with the Army over the past two years to develop the support … to get them the initial equipment they need.” The United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon said that this support was necessary now to help boost Lebanon’s partnership with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and “protect borders and maintain internal security.”“It’s been a success in the sense that a number of countries, the United States, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, in different ways, but a lot of other countries too, have come forward with a lot of different assistance,” he added. The special coordinator made the remarks following his speech at the U.N. Day 2014 event held at the Phoenicia Hotel to an audience of U.N. agencies’ senior representatives.
U.N. Day is celebrated Oct. 24 and marks the anniversary of the ratification of the U.N. Charter in 1945. It is held to commemorate all the achievements of the U.N. and was first celebrated in 1948. The event started with a recorded speech by Ban Ki-Moon. In addition to Plumbly, Maurice Saade, Food and Agriculture Organization representative in Lebanon, also spoke at the event. “Once again as we commemorate United Nations day, we do so at a time of turbulence and appalling conflict across the region,” Plumbly said in his speech.
“It’s become common place to say so, but it’s true, Lebanon has shown great resilience in the face of this. It has done so thanks to the resolve of its people and the unity of its leaders.” Plumbly went on to say that the international community was also united in supporting Lebanon, citing the International Support Group for Lebanon, which met at the New York General Assembly in September, as an example. “[International Support] has been manifested in the international assistance, totaling almost $2 billion, which has been gathered over the last 24 months for refugees and Lebanese communities and institutions impacted by the war in Syria,” he said. Asked about the issue of the government’s newly proposed refugee policy – which the Cabinet says will prevent all refugees crossing the border from Syria, except those with “extreme humanitarian cases,” – Plumbly said the U.N. would wait to see more details. “We’re waiting to see to be honest. I’m sure we’ll work together [with the government] and cooperate. You know, make it work, but we’ll see, we’ll have to wait and see the details to be honest,” he told The Daily Star. The issue of channeling support to help Lebanese host communities that have been severely affected by the Syrian refugee crisis was prominent in all of the literature available at the conference.
“More and more [the U.N. is] realizing the humanitarian issues cannot be treated in isolation,” Saade told The Daily Star. “In order to ensure social cohesion, to avoid the friction between host communities and the refugees you need to treat both equally.”
According to Saade, the U.N. has implemented a wide range of programs targeted at providing aid to the poorest and most vulnerable host communities, especially those in which there are now more refugees than local residents. He estimated that there were now 250 communities where this was the case. “We hope that creating jobs for both the refugees and the host communities will deter youth from either criminal activities or political radicalism,” he added. During his speech, Saade highlighted several different programs that the U.N.’s 24 agencies in Lebanon are currently working on, including the World Health Organization’s assistance in building Ebola wards in Beirut’s hospitals. He also noted that the U.N. had doubled the number of its civilian staff in Lebanon in the past 18 months and “most of these staff are Lebanese.”“We know that this is not nearly enough,” Saade said. “Despite the support, more must be done to share the burden of the Syrian conflict. “We know that Lebanon is carrying far more than its share. We are raising our voices to the world, appealing for it to stand by Lebanon … for its own stability and for the stability of the region.”