Secretary-General António Guterres during a press conference with Lebanese President Michel Aoun in Beirut.
Photo credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cautioned on Tuesday that the international community is unlikely to provide Lebanon with much-needed assistance while the country is mired in a “very dramatic” situation.
Marking the end of a three-day visit to Lebanon on 21 December, the UN chief said he wishes the Lebanese leaders to listen and respond to their people’s problems, as the economy of the country continues to experience a free fall.
“The international community will probably … not be responding as we need to respond if they see the country paralyzed and if they do not see a number of clear reforms in relation to the economic, social and the political life of the country, guaranteeing that the Lebanese institutions are putting the country on the right track,” Guterres told reporters.
Speaking earlier at a joint press conference at the Lebanese Presidential Palace on 19 December, Guterres asked the international community to strengthen its support.
He told reporters that the reason he came to the country was 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.”
“I told the President that I have come with one simple message: the United Nations stands in solidarity with the people of Lebanon,” the UN chief said.
He then added: “I am gravely concerned about the impact of the economic and financial crisis in the country, causing ever more people to need humanitarian assistance,” as quoted by Al Jazeera.
“The Lebanese people expect their political leaders to restore the economy, provide effective government and state institutions, put an end to corruption and preserve human rights,” he said.
Guterres noted that the Lebanese President Michel Aoun spoke “exactly in this direction.”
Considering the suffering of the Lebanese people, the Secretary-General maintained that “Lebanese political leaders do not have the right to be divided and to paralyze the country.”
Michel Aoun said that discussion included the topic of Syrian migration, and the need to find an unique solution to the crisis of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which has been growing for over a decade.