The Daily Star – Monday 21/09/2015
BEIRUT: Former President Amine Gemayel discussed with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Sunday the situation on Lebanon’s eastern borders and the Syrian refugee crisis facing the country. In the meeting at the U.N.’s headquarters in New York, Gemayel urged Ban to consider the issue of monitoring Lebanon’s borders with Syria as an “international responsibility,” suggesting the deployment of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon troops to the north and east of the country, similar to what was done in 2006 on the southern border.
“The British effort succeeded in erecting watchtowers on the borders, which is good but not enough,” Gemayel told the U.N. leader, according to a statement by Gamayel’s press office.
According to Gemayel, any change to the UNIFIL mandate could be completed “by referring to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 that allows for the expansion of the work of UNIFIL troops.”
Gemayel also raised the issue of the large number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the threat it poses to Lebanon’s “security, economy and social fabric.”
The former president also met with former U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon and current U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, the statement said.
The two meetings, which were attended by Lebanon’s envoy to the U.N. Nawwaf Salam, also touched on the 16-month-old presidential vacuum in Lebanon and the need to end it as soon as possible.
Lebanon has been without a president since May 2014, with each of the rival March 8 and March 14 camps vetoing the other’s candidates. Speaker Nabih Berri has launched national dialogue sessions earlier this month in a bid to end the crisis.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 21, 2015, on page 4.