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Syrian displacement poses ‘serious threat’ to Lebanon’s development goals, President tells UN Assembly

“This displacement has posed a serious threat to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda in Lebanon and led to the aggravation of its economic crisis”, said Michel Aoun, adding that the fallout also includes infrastructure and an increase in Lebanon’s unemployment rate.

As Lebanon strives to confront its difficult economic situation, relying on “drastic structural measures and reforms to its economic and financial system”, President Aoun called on the world leaders to work for the safe return of the displaced.

“Addressing this crisis is certainly not the sole responsibility of Lebanon,” he underscored, but a “shared international responsibility…for all of us to collaborate together to urgently find solutions”.

“The international community cannot content itself with providing minimum assistance to the displaced and refugees in their regions of displacement only, while excluding programmes for their safe and dignified return”, he stressed.

The Lebanese President pointed out that the security situation in most of Syria has become stable, with military confrontations confined to the Idlib region. But while Syria has officially welcomed return of its displaced citizens, he said that of the more than 250,000 displaced who have returned from Lebanon to Syria, the feedback was that “they have not been subject to persecution or mistreatment”.

“We have many question marks about the positions of some active States and concerned international organizations, trying to hinder this return, the allegations that the security situation in Syria is dangerous, and sowing fear among the displaced…as if the displaced have become hostages in an international game to be swapped when settlements and solutions are imposed!”, he criticized.

Rich versus weak

The Middle East remains a constant flashpoint for war, “where temperature rises or drops but never cools down, and our people always pay the price, with their security, stability, peace, economy and even demographic diversity”, the Lebanese President said.

“The core of the problem is the same: contradiction between the interest of the strong and the right of the weak; thus principles, logic and justice are lost, and solutions are diluted”, he lamented.

Asserting that the UN has undertaken many initiatives aimed at making the voice of peace and development heard, he expressed hope that the UN will promote international law and the Charter as “the only reference to safeguard the rights, for no justice shall rise, no right shall be consecrated and no peace will be established, as long as the principle prevailing in our world is: I am strong, then I am right!”, concluded President Aoun.

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