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Lazzarini: Lebanon-Israeli Borders Most Stable in Region

Lazzarini: Lebanon-Israeli Borders Most Stable in Region

Thursday, 31 January, 2019 - 13:00
UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon Philippe Lazzarini (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Beirut- Nazeer Rida
UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon Philippe Lazzarini said the Lebanese border with Israel was one of the most stable in the Middle East in recent years, hoping that this situation would be maintained in the future. He also stressed that both Lebanon and Israel did not want war.

The security situation on the southern border deteriorated in December after Israel launched the "North Shield" operation, aimed at destroying Hezbollah’s tunnels. This led to a military alert on both sides of the border, followed by Israel’s resumption of building a concrete wall at controversial border points, which aggravated the crisis in the region.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Lazzarini said: “The good thing about the southern border is that the two sides do not want war so far.”

Emphasizing the need to maintain constant efforts to prevent any escalation of the situation, the UN official noted that the main problems would lie in the risk of miscalculation, which could cause the situation to go out of control.

“The file of tunnels could become a miscalculation; this requires collective attention to ensure that we don’t approach the danger zone,” he explained.

The southern border has been one of the most stable areas in the Middle East since more than 12 years, according to Lazzarini, thanks to the issuance of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

On a different note, Asharq Al-Awsat asked the UN coordinator about the recent wave of attacks against the Syrian displaced in the Bekaa town of Arsal.

“Arsal has always been our top priority because it is one of the areas where the number of refugees exceeds that of the Lebanese residents. For this reason, it is important to have approaches that would also benefit the host community in such regions,” he said.

“Today, we are trying to develop long-term projects. There are talks with the municipalities and the authorities to find a solution to the sewage crisis, which has become a source of tension between the refugees and residents,” Lazzarini remarked.

The second reason for tension is the competition between the Syrian and Lebanese labor force, a problem that has increased the need to focus more on employment projects, according to the UN official.

The problem with this overall economic climate is the difficulty of making work projects sustainable, he noted.

“We are talking about a situation where unemployment rates are high and jobs are missing year after year,” he continued, stressing the need to create jobs opportunities.

Lazzarini pointed to Lebanon’s permanent stance that the future of the displaced would not be in Lebanon, but in Syria, confirming that the Lebanese were still committed to the voluntary and safe return of refugees.

“I know that the term ‘voluntary return’ has created an internal controversy sometimes, but Lebanon respects the principle of not forcing the displaced people to return,” he stated.

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