Speaker Events - Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Derek Plumbly on Lebanese Resilience Amid Rising Challenges
Lebanon has exceeded expectations in dealing with the continuing fallout from the crisis in neighboring Syria, said Derek Plumbly, United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, on March 26th. Speaking at the International Peace Institute, Mr. Plumbly praised the Lebanese people for “actually sustaining a measure of stability in their country.”
Since civil war broke out three years ago in Syria, roughly 1 million refugees have fled across the border into Lebanon, a country that had a population of fewer than 5 million before the crisis started. Rather than set up camps, Lebanon has tried to accommodate the refugees by temporarily integrating them into Lebanese society.
The more than 20 percent swell in total population, however, has significantly strained Lebanon’s economy as well as the security and political spheres, Mr. Plumbly said. "All three areas have been deeply affected by the Syrian crisis," he said.
He said the hardest hit areas are some 200 cities and towns, mostly in the north, where refugee density is highest, with Syrians vastly outnumbering Lebanese in some areas and creating competition for resources—including jobs, housing, and basic services such as water, electricity, and plumbing.
Empty streets in Beirut with boarded up restaurants and grocery stores reflect the findings of a recent economic assessment by the World Bank, Mr. Plumbly said. The report found growth at a complete standstill over the last two years, he explained.
Arguing that an upsurge of terrorism adds to mounting tension between refugees and locals, Mr. Plumbly noted that there have been nine suicide bombings since last November, including the first political assassination in many years.
"As this has gone on, a polarization and a growth in extremism reflect the tensions between the communities," he said, adding that this has also strained the authority of the government.
Nevertheless, the Lebanese people—many of whom remember their own bloody civil war that ended in 1990—remain resolved not to be drawn into the fighting, the UN official argued. "People are very conscious of just how appalling it will be if they go over the edge,” he said, “and that, I think, does give a measure of restraint."
With thousands of Syrians crossing the border daily and no end to the conflict in sight, he said, the situation remains “extremely volatile.”
The Lebanese government is determined to avoid delaying the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for later this year, noted Mr. Plumbly, and he called on the international community to continue to support Lebanon.
We need to help keep things “on course, institutions in place, capable of dealing with challenges that arise” because the Lebanese need support. “And standing with them as they do so—delivering on these various support agendas—is enormously important."
The event was moderated by Warren Hoge, IPI Senior Advisor for External Relations.
The Global Observatory
Killing of al-Shabaab Leader Throws Future of Militant Group into Question
In the short term, the killing of Godane is likely to result in more violent attacks, but longer-term consequences are hard to predict.
Key Global Events to Watch in September
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.
2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.
The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.
September 19, 2014
Madani: Extremist Group Actions “Cannot be Associated with Any Religion”
Iyad Madani, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), reaffirmed at IPI the Muslim world’s commitment to religious tolerance and human rights and sought to distance Islam from the recent violent actions at the hands of extremist groups across Africa and the Middle East.
September 15, 2014
Despite Disaffection, Youth Still Engaged with Democracy
Young people around the world appear increasingly disaffected with politics and political institutions, particularly in countries where corruption is rampant and government accountability is lacking. Yet during a September 15th event commemorating the International Day of Democracy, a group of young political activists from three different continents spoke at IPI
September 10, 2014
Lessons from the Past, Visions for the Future: The Middle East After 1914
On September 10-11, 2014, the International Peace Institute launched its inaugural meeting at its Middle East Regional Office in Manama, Bahrain titled “Lessons from the Past, Visions for the Future: The Middle East After 1914.”
September 17, 2014
Video: Strengthening Democratic Governance in Africa