Helen Clark: Speech at the International Support Group for Lebanon

Sep 26, 2014

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator and
Chair of the UN Development Group
at the
International Support Group for Lebanon
United Nations, New York

Lebanon is paying a heavy price for the ongoing Syria crisis.  
Hard won development gains and the country’s precious stability are threatened, making the Syrian crisis not only a humanitarian and development crisis for Syrians, but also a development and stability crisis for Lebanon.

Lebanon cannot address this crisis on its own. I ask all partners to put aside the fact that Lebanon is classified as a middle-income country, and recognize that the country needs much more development support at this time in order to maintain its stability. Let us look into our own hearts and ask how stable any of our countries would be if we were accommodating a refugee population equal to one quarter of our whole population – and in such a small geographical area as that of Lebanon.

The United Nations agencies, with the support of partners, are doing what they can in Lebanon with limited resources. But much more must be done on the development side. We must make use of all available resources and instruments, including existing funding mechanisms like the Lebanon Recovery Fund, to reach the most vulnerable communities quickly.

In Beirut, last week, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and I signed an agreement between UNDP and UNHCR on co-operation between our agencies, to show our determination to have a co-ordinated refugee and development response which will address the needs of refugees; help relieve the current socio-economic pressures in host countries brought about by the surge in population; and provide improved services, infrastructure, and livelihood opportunities for the future. This will be reflected in the forthcoming Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan – the 3RP.

It would also be helpful to do more to address the refugee crisis at its source. Support for livelihoods and basic service rehabilitation inside Syria itself could help stem part of the refugee movement into neighbouring countries.

In conclusion, UNDP will do whatever it can to support Lebanon’s national Crisis Response Plan, and to work with all partners to scale up development support for Lebanon at this critical time. It is vital that Lebanon can remain an island of stability in a highly volatile region.

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