Thursday, September 26, 2019

Readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with H.E. General Michel Aoun, President of the Lebanese Republic

25 September 2019
The Secretary-General met with H.E. General Michel Aoun, President of the Lebanese Republic.  The Secretary-General expressed appreciation for Lebanon's generosity in hosting refugees while underscoring the need to find durable solutions.  The Secretary-General and President Aoun discussed the importance of resolution 1701 (2006) and the contribution of UNIFIL in maintaining stability.  They also exchanged views on regional developments, highlighting the importance of promoting dialogue.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


SEP 24 2019 - Speech of UNIFIL Head of Mission Major General Stefano Del Col

It is a true privilege to welcome you to UNIFIL headquarters on behalf of the united nations in occasion to the 2019 international day of peace, which we celebrate today, to allow for a more inclusive participation.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the un resolution on the "programme of action on a culture of peace", which is very relevantly linked to this day, embodying our shared aspiration to end conflict in all its forms.

Since its establishment in 1981, the "peace day" is globally observed each year on 21 September, to promote peace among nations and people. Each year, a different sustainable development goal (SDG) is choosen as a theme for the peace day. Adopted in 2015 as a mean to achieve social as well as economic development, SDGs are the essential blueprint for creating a truly peaceful world. Last year theme, "the right to peace", focused on the 70th anniversary of the declaration of human rights, while this year's theme, "climate action for peace", highlights goal 13 - "climate action".

Goal 13 stresses the need to lower greenhouse emissions, build resiliance and improve climate change education. It calls for sustainable and renewable solutions, enabling us to leapfrog to more green and resilient economies.

The theme climate action for peace draws our attention to the importance of acting against climate change, which effects lead to extreme weather events and natural disasters; salinization of fresh water; acidification of oceans; melting of permafrost, glaciers as well as impacts on human health.

Peace can only be achieved through immediate and concrete actions against climate change: natural disasters displaces 3 times as many people as conflicts; salinization of water and terrain endangers food procuction; oceans acidification destroy costal area's ecosystems and economies; melting of permafrost effects include sea water rise, which endangers low lying areas, as well as loss of freshwater resources.

The compounded outcomes of climate change lead to growing tensions over resources, mass movements of people, and health related issues, which are affecting every country on every continent.

We can act against climate change in different ways and at different levels: enforcing measures to lower our dependance on fossil fuels; governments prioritizing policies to reach carbon neutrality by 2050; campaigning for climate action and sustainable practices.  Everyone can and should be part of the solution: making sure that lights are turned off, carpooling, disposing of waste responsibly, avoiding idling of vehicles, or avoiding water wastages are actions we can all take. Every little action counts and contributes to shaping a better world for us and for our children.

Inaction is our biggest enemy, because quoting Secretary-General António Guterres "it is possible to achieve our goals, but we need decisions, political will and transformational policies to allow us to still live in peace with our own climate" (15 May 2019).

I would like to thank everyone in the audience for participating to this event and for the active role i am sure they will have in shaping a more sustainable future.

I would also like to praise all peacekeepers for their daily efforts and active role in maintaining peace and stability.

UNIFIL acts impartially and independently. Together with the partners to the cessasion of hostilities and the Lebanese armed forces - our strategic partner, we enabled an environment conducive for economic activities and growth, including tourism. The provision of safety and security lead to over 13 years of calm and stability.

UNIFIL acts for peace, implementing its mandate within the framework of security council resolution 1701 and associated, acting through: liaison and coordination; monitoring of the blue line; in aiding the government of Lebanon in its responsibility to protect civilians.

In reaffirming UNIFIL outmost commitment to maintain and solidify the cessation of hostilities, i would like to invite all stakeholders to exercise restraint and prevent further escalations. The events we have seen on 1st September, are a serious violation of the UNSCR 1701, and as such undermine the stability along the blue line.

I urge all of you to work with confidence and dedication, and through partnership and understanding towards peace.

Carry with you this year's message: climate action for peace!

Thank you! Shoukran!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Joint statement of the International Support Group for Lebanon

Beirut, Lebanon 13 September 2019 
The members of the International Support Group (ISG) for Lebanon met today and welcomed the economic meeting of 2 September convened under the leadership of President Aoun as a catalyst for political leaders to address the economic challenges Lebanon faces in light of its own economic assessments and in line with Lebanon's economic vision and its commitments at the Conférence Economique pour le Développement, par les Réformes et avec les Entreprises (CEDRE). 
Noting with concern the implications of these economic assessments and those of the credit rating agencies and the IMF, the ISG welcomes the commitment by Lebanon's leaders to complete its annual accounting of its expenditures and adopt the 2020 budget within the timeframe stipulated in the Constitution and with the stated intent to further reduce the deficit. Towards that end, the ISG welcomes the referral of the draft 2020 budget along with critical reform legislation to the Council of Ministers on 12 September. 
In line with the Constitutional leaders' call for action within six months to address these economic problems and to set the country on the path for sustainable growth, the ISG urges Lebanon's leaders to promulgate a transparent plan for reform and to act expeditiously to adopt fiscal, structural and sectoral reforms so as to improve the government's fiscal position, enhance the overall business environment, and support the development of productive sectors, infrastructure and basic services, including through privatisation. In parallel, it is crucial that Lebanon implement governance reforms on anti-corruption and transparency measures, which it has identified as essential for its economic recovery and growth and in line with its commitments at CEDRE and the President's economic blueprint presented at the 2 September meeting. 
The ISG welcomes progress between the Government of Lebanon and the international community regarding the follow-up mechanism for the implementation of the CEDRE - funded projects and reforms and encourages the full implementation of its components. As reform of the electricity sector is critical to addressing the deficit, the ISG urges continued progress in the implementation of this plan, the establishment of an independent regulatory body and the appointment of an effective and technically qualified EDL Board of Directors, and other measures for efficiency, transparency and accountability. 
Finally, the ISG reiterates its support for Lebanon's sovereignty, stability and economic recovery and its hope for a prosperous, vibrant economy for the benefit of all its citizens in the near future. 
Note to Editors 
The International Support Group has brought together the United Nations and the governments of China, France, Germany, Italy, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, together with the European Union and the Arab League. It was launched in September 2013 by the UN Secretary-General with former President Michel Sleiman to help mobilize support and assistance for Lebanon's stability, sovereignty and state institutions and to specifically encourage assistance for the Lebanese Army, Syrian refugees in Lebanon and host communities and government programs and public services impacted by the Syrian crisis.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019


4 Sep 2019
In the wake of the serious incident along the Blue Line on 1 September that occurred amidst mounting tension following developments outside the UNIFIL area of operations, UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major-General Stefano Del Col today called on Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Beirut.

Following the meeting, Major-General Del Col said:

"I had very useful discussions with the Prime Minister today. I shared my serious concern at the incident of 1 September in UNIFIL area of operations when anti-tank missiles claimed by Hizbullah were fired from southern Lebanon across the Blue Line. This was a serious breach of the cessation of hostilities and a gross violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701."

"The missile attack triggered retaliatory shelling by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and could have led to unwanted escalation of the situation that UNIFIL and the parties might not have been able to control, hence endangering the safety of the local population."

"My priority was to quickly de-escalate the situation and restore calm in the area, which was achieved through intensive engagement with the parties during the course of the developments. Once again UNIFIL's liaison and coordination mechanism played a critical role in deconflicting the situation along the Blue Line. At this time, we remain closely engaged with the parties to contain tensions and incidents and enable a safe and secure environment in the area." 

"The security infrastructure that UNIFIL has established along the Blue Line in collaboration with the parties and through our coordinated operations with the Lebanese Armed Forces has delivered 13 years of calm and stability in the area. The effectiveness of this mechanism is, however, contingent on the parties and I am very encouraged by the Prime Minister's strong reaffirmation today of Lebanon's continued commitment to the cessation of hostilities under resolution 1701. It is of paramount importance that the area between the Blue Line and the Litani River is free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and UNIFIL"

"We also agreed on the importance of strengthening the capabilities of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in the UNIFIL area of operations in order to enable it to take greater security responsibilities along the Blue Line. I assured the Prime Minister of UNIFIL's continued efforts to this end."

Sunday, September 01, 2019


1 Sep 2019
At about 5 pm today UNIFIL was informed by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) that an anti-tank missile had been fired from the vicinity of Marun Ar Ras in southern Lebanon at an IDF vehicle in the Avivim area, south of the Blue Line. In response the IDF conducted artillery fire directed at the general area from where the missile attack had originated.
UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major-General Stefano Del Col was immediately in contact with the parties in order to contain the situation and restore the cessation of hostilities. At this time calm has returned in the area and UNIFIL is maintaining its presence on the ground together with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).
Major-General Del Col has expressed serious concern at the incident and urged the parties to exercise utmost restraint to prevent any further escalation of the situation.
Major-General Del Col said: "This is a serious incident in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701 and clearly directed at undermining stability in the area." 
"We need to maintain security along the Blue Line and exercise utmost restraint. General calm has been restored in the area and the parties have reassured me of their continued commitment to the cessation of hostilities in accordance with resolution 1701."
UNIFIL is following up to determine the facts and circumstances of the incident, including any casualties or damages caused as a result. At this time UNIFIL has no reports of casualties from either side.