After a month-long political crisis, Lebanon has embarked on a new phase that will “hopefully mark a promising step on the path of recovery”, the country’s President old the 76th session of the UN General Assembly on Friday.
Via a video-message, President Michel Aoun assured world leaders that despite internal or international challenges, Lebanon’s new Government, formed this month, would “earn the confidence of both the people and the international community”.
As successive crises “exploded simultaneously” over the past two years, Lebanon has known its hardest times, according to the President.
“Indeed, the financial and economic policies adopted for decades and built upon the profit-based pattern, in addition to corruption and waste that resulted from bad management and absence of accountability, had pushed Lebanon into an unprecedented financial and monetary crisis which led to economic stagnation, a stifling livelihood crisis, and growing in unemployment, migration and poverty rates”, Mr. Aoun elaborated.
However, he informed the Assembly that the Government has committed to carry out its pressing financial and economic reforms; fight corruption; and lay down a safety net plan.
The President also noted that Lebanon relies on the international community to finance vital projects to revitalize economy, create jobs and help the nation recover from “corruption crimes”.
Impacts of Syrian war
Regional wars have also contributed to the nation’s crises, especially that of Syria, which has caused more than 1.5 million to stream into Lebanon.
He painted a picture of “the catastrophic outcomes” of displacement on economic, social, health and security, appealing to the international community to help secure the safe return of those displaced.
South of the border
The President reiterated Lebanon’s position of rejecting further Palestinian refugees, “based on the necessity to find a solution to the Palestinian issue”.
He also drew attention to “persistent Israeli threats” as Lebanon’s “main concern”, while also highlighting Jerusalem’s efforts to explore for oil and gas in the disputed area on the maritime borders.
President Aoun condemned attempts to transgress the boundaries of the Exclusive Economic Zone and demanded that indirect negotiations for the demarcation of the Southern maritime borders be resumed according to international laws.
Repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic were “exponentially greater” in Lebanon because they exacerbated an already shaky economy; a health sector grappling with drug shortage, medical supplies and fuel; and a human drain of doctors and nurses who migrated for economic reasons.
To date, the country’s vaccination rate reached 30 per cent and the President said, “we are striving to surpass the 40 per cent goal by the end of the year”.
Beirut explosion, one year later
Amid these crises, the catastrophic Beirut Port blast came to further aggravate the suffering.
“Today, more than a year later, our capital continues to be quiet and dark, as it remains a disaster-stricken city”, he said.
Describing “commendable” international solidarity, he stressed that Lebanon is investigating the causes and circumstances of the explosion and has made many arrests.
In closing, President Aoun said, “as Lebanon tries tenaciously to work its way towards recovery, it relies on international solidarity to achieve its goals”.
Read the full statement here.