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

UNIFIL HOM/FC MEETS WITH LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER

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

UNIFIL STATEMENT ON TODAY’S INCIDENTS ALONG THE BLUE LINE

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.