Special Coordinator Kaag at Launch of Media Campaign on Reducing Tensions between Lebanese host communities and Syrian Refugees

Meeting at the Ministry of Information to launch campaign on reducing tensions between Lebanese host communities and Syrian refugees

3 Aug 2017

Special Coordinator Kaag at Launch of Media Campaign on Reducing Tensions between Lebanese host communities and Syrian Refugees

Remarks by UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag at the Launch of a Media Campaign with Minister of Information Melhem Riachi, UNHCR and other partners on Reducing Tensions between Lebanese host Communities and Syrian Refugees

When the Minister approached the United Nations and had a discussion with UNHCR, I would say with an innovative idea, an idea stemming from his leadership and his vision, independently (inaudible) with a view to reduce tensions between Lebanese host communities, as the minister also highlighted, and refugee communities. For us it is timely and useful and relevant from a broader perspective than only this particular campaign. I believe it is the first step, very much under the aegis and support and leadership of the minister himself, to look at issues of tolerance, social cohesion, dialogue and what it means to say Lebanon is the message. A message is living, it needs to be kept, it needs to be received and need to continuously ensure the audience, be it in Lebanon and the international community actually hears what Lebanon has to say and those who reside on Lebanon’s soil. So I see this as very much a positive message and one indeed where a message that not only reflects on Lebanon's own resilience, strength and I would say moral rectitude.

The Secretary-General of course has never failed to mention Lebanon’s exceptional generosity towards all refugees, be it Palestine refugees, Syrian refugees in particular in this era, and other communities. And there is no other country in the world that bears both the burden but equally does it graciously, generously and with open spirit and heart. I think it is the open spirit and heart that we want to highlight.

If I may just make use of 1 minute to emphasize however   when I know that UNHCR and others have done studies on tensions of course of these factors. We know that social stability is increasingly fragile, hence the urgency and timeliness of this campaign. There are tensions around the resources, Limited shares resources and resources in terms of access to the labor market and these are worrying trends. But if we say and we know and we are all here today for our common objective as very much reflected by the minister, is a stable, prosperous and secure Lebanon where the Syrian refugees will be able in the future to go home to the motherland or fatherland which is Syria, when conditions are met in voluntary, safe return, in dignity then of course we need to focus our efforts on the (inaudible) which is social stability, social cohesion and security of Lebanon the hosting country.

There are many ways to do this, it is strengthening society, it is emphasizing the importance of dialogue in a respectful, open and transparent manner and of course the role of the media in this entire context is critical which again why it is so important that the minister who is a long standing proponent of dialogue in many different ways on different issues, is leading this and investing himself and his political standing in this regard. Civil Society of course, we will never be able to achieve anything without the voice and independence alongside the civil society. And hopefully this is the first day of a long partnership as it evolves and as the situation opportunities and challenges will evolve for Lebanon but the target is always the prosperity of Lebanon as a country and its territorial integrity.

Thank you very much.