Hariri chairs meeting of Syrian displaced steering committee: Lebanon is going through extremely difficult times that require exceptional measures

The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri chaired this afternoon at the Grand Serail the first meeting of the High-level Steering Committee to address the crisis of the displaced Syrians in Lebanon, that was formed after the London conference last year, and includes Lebanon and representatives from the countries that participated in the conference, UN organizations and the World Bank. The meeting was attended by Minister of Education and Higher Education Marwan Hamade, State Minister for refugees affairs Moein Merehbi, Social Affairs minister Pierre Abi Assi, Minister of Economy Raed Khoury, Chairman of the Council for Development and Reconstruction Nabil Jisr, Director General of the Ministry of Finance Alain Bifani, advisers Nadim Al Mounla and Fadi Fawaz, ambassadors and representatives of the United States , Russia, Oman, China, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Mexico, the Netherlands, the European Union, the United Nations and the World Bank. The meeting was devoted to evaluate the commitment of the International community and Lebanon to the resolutions of the London conference and the preparation of the Brussels Conference that will be held next month and that is expected to address an increase of the aid provided by the international community to Lebanon to help it carry the burden of the presence of more than a million and a half displaced Syrians on its territory. Hariri At the start of the meeting, Prime minister Saad Hariri said: “The components of the Lebanese government policy towards the displaced Syrians, which we hope to unveil at the Brussels conference, are being finalized. Last week, the inter-ministerial committee undertook an advanced discussion of the Lebanese government policy paper, and we hope to finalize it in the coming weeks”. He added: “Lebanon is going through extremely difficult times that require exceptional measures. As a result of the crisis, our growth rates declined sharply, unemployment and poverty rates have increased to unprecedented levels, our public services are overstretched and our infrastructure depleted, our situation has deteriorated and needless to say, our debt and deficits ratios have increased”. Hariri added: “We have developed a clear strategy to deal with the severe repercussions of the Syrian crisis and to put Lebanon back on a sustainable path of stabilization and development. Indeed, the situation requires massive steps to create employment. The only way to achieve that is through an ambitious, large scale, multiyear capital investment program that cuts across all infrastructure and public services in all Lebanese regions. This program should help instigate growth, create employment, ensure that a stabilization mechanism is in place, and advance Lebanon’s developmental agenda. Moreover, it should position Lebanon as a launching pad for the reconstruction of Syria”. He said: “In this respect, we welcome the recent IMF report on the Lebanese economy, that concluded that “Lebanon’s refugee presence has added to Lebanon’s infrastructure gap and that there is an immediate need for increased investment (especially in infrastructure) and job-rich growth, but this requires sustained and forward looking support from the international community.”” Hariri said: “We see Brussels as the beginning of a process rather than an end by itself, a process where we want to engage with the international community to mobilize assistance for our vital program in the form of grants and concessional loans, as well as ensure humanitarian commitments beyond 2017. Here, I very much welcome the statement made by Secretary General Antonio Gueterres, in his recent report about Lebanon, where he clearly stated “I welcome the continued generous donor support to Lebanon… and it will be equally important to mobilize additional longer term development resources either through grants or concessional loans”.” He concluded: “We hope to see a peaceful political solution to the conflict in Syria in the very near future. We also would like to see the reconstruction of Syria taking place. However, until all these developments actually materialize, host countries continue to carry the economic, social, fiscal and security burden of hosting millions of displaced Syrians on their territories, and continue to provide a public good on behalf of the rest of the world. Let us together invest in the future of a stable Lebanon”.

Source: National News Agency