The Secretary-General delivered the opening remarks at the ministerial meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon. The Secretary-General told the delegates that it is now absolutely essential for the international community to show strong solidarity with Lebanon, a country he called “a fundamental pillar of stability in the region”. As such, he underscored that countries in the region should work to avoid any steps that could lead to misunderstanding, confrontation or escalation.
The strengthening of Lebanon’s institutions and the extension of state authority throughout its territory are of crucial importance, the Secretary-General added, while also welcoming the strengthened deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces south of the Litani River.
The Secretary-General spoke to reporters afterwards, saying that support for Lebanon is a question of enlightened self-interest to support Lebanon.
On the sidelines of the Lebanon meeting, which took place at the Italian Foreign Ministry, the Secretary-General held separate bilateral meetings with the Italian Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, and Federica Mogherini, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Earlier in the day, shortly after arriving in Rome, the Secretary-General attended the ministerial conference to mobilise collective action for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA. “We are here to help UNRWA overcome the worst financial crisis in its history”, the Secretary-General declared. He warned that for 2018, with pledges reduced, UNRWA faces a shortfall of $446 million. If it cannot be met, he warned, critical services could be reduced or eliminated entirely.
He appealed to the participants of the meeting to give generously to bridge the UNRWA shortfall for 2018 with predictable, sustained and additional funding.
The Secretary-General will travel to Lisbon this evening, and he will speak to the Islamic community of Lisbon tomorrow.