Naharnet

Plumbly Considers Situation in South 'Dangerous', Urges Self-Restraint

United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly described on Wednesday the situation along the southern Lebanese border as “dangerous,” stressing that all sides must exercise self-restraint.

“The recent developments are a serious source of concern, especially after rockets (hit Israel) for four consecutive days,” Plumbly said in an interview with An Nahar newspaper.

However, he expressed fear over any escalatory move.

The U.N. diplomat believed that it is in Hizbullah and Israel's best interest to maintain the eight-year peace along the Blue Line.

He considered the launching of rockets from South Lebanon a “clear violation” of U.N. Security Council resolution 1701, revealing that investigations are ongoing.

Plumbly hailed coordination between the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and the Lebanese Armed Forces.

In the fourth such attack in four days, at least one rocket was fired Monday night from southern Lebanon towards northern Israel.

In retaliation, the Israeli army fired several artillery shells.

And three rockets were fired Saturday at Israel from the same region while a rocket was launched early Friday from the southern region of Hasbaya. A man has been arrested over his involvement in Friday's attack, which he said was in solidarity with the Gaza Strip.

Israel had filed a complaint to UNIFIL, which monitors the border between Lebanon and Israel, after Friday's attack.

Israeli military officials said they believed Friday's attack was carried out by a small Palestinian group in retaliation to Israel's deadly assault on Gaza.

These security developments in the South come as an Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip has entered its tenth day, killing at least 194 people and wounding over 1,500 others.

Concerning the Syrian refugees crisis, Plumbly lauded the efforts exerted by Lebanon to confront the burden imposed by the surging number of displaced Syrians.

“The international community should share this burden,” the U.N. diplomat said, warning of further security, social and economic threats.

Asked about a possible Lebanese decision to establish camps for Syrian refugees outside Lebanese territories or in buffer zones along the border with Syria, Plumbly said: “such an action requires a decision by the cabinet.”

“The matter compromises the safety of refugees if such a move was taken.”

Lebanon currently hosts 1.1 million refugees, the highest number at 38 percent of Syrian refugees fleeing the war-torn country for other countries in the region.

The U.N. says the country needs $1.6 billion (1.2 billion euros) for 2014 to be able to cope with the refugee crisis, but that only 23 percent of this has been gathered.

According to Central Bank of Lebanon statistics, the country faces a financial burden of $4.5 billion because of the refugee crisis.

In May, the Lebanese authorities took a decision to ban Syrian refugees from heading to their country or lose their status.

On the presidential deadlock, Plumbly said that the U.N. Security Council and the international community support Lebanon's stability and the unity of its land.

“State institutions shouldn't be impeded and the vacancy should be filled without any further delay.”

He called on the “Lebanese not to wait for any breakthroughs in the region to resolve their own problems.”

Lebanon's top Christian post was left vacant on May 25 when President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended amid a failure by the rival March 8 and 14 alliances to find a successor over their dispute on a compromise candidate.

H.K.

M.T.


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