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II. Implementation of resolution 1559 (2004)
B. Extension of Lebanese Government control over all Lebanese territory
19. Security sources in Lebanon have continued to report shootings and explosions in and around paramilitary infrastructures in the eastern Beka’a Valley belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) and Fatah al-Intifada headquartered in Damascus, confirming that paramilitary training occurs in these facilities. The permanent presence of such bases along the Syrian-Lebanese border adds to the general porosity of parts of the land border and poses a challenge for the control of the border by the Lebanese security forces. It also makes the delineation of the border more difficult.
C. Disbanding and disarmament of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias
23. Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias continue to operate in the country outside of the Government’s control in serious violation of resolution 1559 (2004). While several groups across the political spectrum in Lebanon possess weapons outside Government control, the armed component of Hizbullah is the most significant and most heavily armed Lebanese militia in the country, reaching almost the capacities of a regular army. The leadership of Hizbullah acknowledges that it maintains a substantial military arsenal. Hizbullah is also a Lebanese political party which is part of the current Government coalition. In addition, there are a series of Palestinian armed groups operating in the country inside and outside the refugee camps.
29. With regard to the situation of Palestinians in Lebanon, the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization has reiterated its call upon all Palestinians in Lebanon to respect the sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon and adhere to Lebanese law and security requirements.
30. The situation in most of the 12 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon has remained relatively stable, with the exception of Ain al-Hilweh. Occasional security incidents and inter-factional clashes continued to occur in the camp. In particular, two bodyguards were killed on 14 and 18 December 2011 during assassination attempts against a Fatah security official. In addition, the Lebanese Armed Forces have seized weapons bound for the camp. The threat of internal violence that could potentially spill over into surrounding areas still exists in a number of camps as some of them continue to provide safe haven for those who seek to escape the authority of the State.
31. In March, the Government of Lebanon disclosed that it had discovered a terrorist cell affiliated to Al-Qaida that planned attacks on the Lebanese army. It alleged that the cell had branches in Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp. The Lebanese army has urged the Palestinian factions inside the camp to hand over the members of the cell, in particular its leader who is reportedly residing there.
32. The humanitarian conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have remained dire and precarious. Prime Minister Mikati pledged that his Government would do its best to improve their living conditions. The long-awaited decree to implement amendments to the labour and social code already agreed by the Lebanese Parliament in 2010 to facilitate the access of Palestinian workers to the labour market was signed on 21 February by the outgoing Minister of Labour but was immediately withdrawn for further consideration by his successor. The United Nations continues to urge the Lebanese authorities to improve the conditions in which Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon, without prejudice to the eventual resolution of the Palestinian refugee question in the context of a comprehensive peace agreement in the region, in particular given the detrimental effects of dismal living conditions on the wider security situation.
33. Lebanese authorities have acknowledged the existence of good cooperation between the Lebanese Armed Forces and Palestinian security officials in the camps. However, with the exception of the Nahr al-Barid camp, Lebanese authorities do not maintain a permanent presence inside the camps, despite the fact that the Cairo agreement of 1969 — which permitted the presence of Palestinian armed forces in the refugees’ camps — was annulled by the Lebanese Parliament in 1987. More will need to be done to contain tensions and potential violence in the camps.
34. The presence of Palestinian armed groups outside the camps continues to challenge the ability of Lebanon to exercise full sovereignty over its territory. In spite of the decision taken in 2006 by the National Dialogue, and confirmed at subsequent meetings of the National Dialogue, no progress was made with regard to dismantling the Damascus-headquartered PFLP-GC and Fatah al-Intifada military bases in the country. All but one of these bases are located along the Syrian-Lebanese border. Their presence continues to compromise Lebanese sovereignty and governmental authority. It also poses a challenge to the effective control of the eastern border between Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. I have called consistently upon the Lebanese authorities to dismantle the PFLP-GC and Fatah al-Intifada military bases, and on the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic to cooperate with these efforts.
43. I also encourage President Sleiman and the Government of Prime Minister Mikati to finally implement decisions taken in the past by the National Dialogue, such as the dismantling of Palestinian military bases maintained by the Damascus-headquartered PFLP-GC and Fatah al-Intifada outside the refugee camps. The commitment of the Government’s policy platform to the implementation of previous National Dialogue decisions must be materialized. These bases, most of which straddle the border between Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic, undermine Lebanese sovereignty and challenge the country’s ability to manage its land borders. Mindful that these two militias maintain close regional ties, I expect the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic to act constructively in this process.
44. I remain concerned by the conditions of hardship inside Palestinian refugee camps. I call on the Government of Lebanon to implement amendments to the Lebanese Labour Code and Social Security Law adopted in August 2010, so as to improve the employment prospects of Palestinian refugees. Moreover, the Government of Lebanon and donors should support and strengthen the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East to ensure fundamental improvements in the living conditions of Palestinian refugees. Such progress would not prejudice the eventual resolution of the Palestinian refugee question in the context of a comprehensive regional peace agreement.
51. I remain firmly committed to the implementation of resolution 1559 (2004) for the sake of regional peace and stability, at a particularly difficult and challenging time. I, therefore, call on all parties and actors to fully abide by resolutions 1559 (2004), 1680 (2006) and 1701 (2006). I will continue my efforts towards the full implementation of these and all other Security Council resolutions pertaining to Lebanon.