UN Secretary General kicks off four-day official visit to Lebanon
Guterres says he is in Lebanon to help find ways to solve the multiple crises the country is facing
By News Desk - December 20 2021

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres with Lebanese President Michel Aoun during a joint press conference at the presidential palace in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021.(Hassan Ammar/AP)

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres arrived in Lebanon on 19 December for a four-day visit.

During his visit to the crisis-hit nation, the UN chief is expected to hold meetings with different political and religious leaders. He met with President Michel Aoun a few hours after his arrival.

Speaking at a media conference after the meeting at the presidential palace, Guterres said he had urged President Aoun and other leaders to put their differences aside and focus on solving the multiple crises that Lebanon is facing.

He said the interests of the people should come before any personal or political interests: ”Seeing the suffering of the Lebanese people, Lebanese political leaders do not have the right to be divided and to paralyse the country.”

Assuring the people of Lebanon of the support of the UN, Guterres said the focus of his meetings with the various political leaders will be to ”discuss the best ways to support the Lebanese people to overcome the current economic and financial crisis, and promote peace, stability and sustainable development.”

The UN secretary general also called on the international community to do more to support Lebanon. This remark was made in response to President Aoun who accused the international community of not doing enough to support the country or to assist in the care of the large number of Syrian refugees who sought refuge there in the wake of the war on Syria.

Lebanon is currently going through an economic crisis that has been described as one of the worst in the world in more than a century and half. The crisis has been attributed to several factors including political divisions that have paralysed government operations and affected the government’s plan to engage with the International Monetary Fund over an economic recovery plan.

The economic crisis has plunged a significant part of the population into poverty. The local currency has depreciated to a record low, eroding the value of the wages of most people. This has made it difficult for most people to afford paying for basic goods and services, such as food and medicine.

The crisis has been worsened by the decision that was taken in late October by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations to impose sanctions on Lebanon over comments made by Lebanon’s former minister of George Kordahi on the invasion of Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition. Kordahi subsequently resigned on 3 December to pave the way for the lifting of sanctions.

The country is also facing an energy crisis that has led to the suspension of operations at a number of power stations due to lack of fuel. Hospitals and other essential services providers have been left without enough power for surgical operations.

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