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Situation au Liban/Militants /camps de réfugiés - 16e rapport du Secrétaire général sur l'application de la résolution 1559 (2004) du Conseil de sécurité - Rapport (extraits)
17 October 2012
Sixteenth semi-annual report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 (2004)
1. The current report is the sixteenth semi-annual report on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 (2004). It reviews and assesses the process of the implementation of the resolution since my last report issued on 20 April 2012 (S/2012/244). It notes the absence of further tangible progress on key provisions of the resolution, and highlights concerns that continue to threaten Lebanon’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence, despite President Michel Sleiman’s and Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s careful policy of disassociating Lebanon from the Syrian crisis, and the resumption of the National Dialogue.
II. Implementation of resolution 1559 (2004)
B. Extension of Lebanese Government control over all Lebanese territory
27. There are continuing reports of shootings and explosions in and around paramilitary infrastructures in the eastern Bekaa Valley belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) and Fatah al-Intifadah, which are 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
36. I have long supported the National Dialogue, a Lebanese-led political process, as the best way to address the issue of arms and achieve the ultimate goal of no weapons or armed forces in Lebanon other than those of the Lebanese State. This is the process that the Lebanese leaders committed to in 2008. On 11 June, President Sleiman succeeded in reconvening the National Dialogue, which had not met since November 2010. The session was attended by many of the country’s leaders from across the political spectrum, representing both the March 8 and March 14 political movements. The Secretary-General of Hizbullah, one of the main stakeholders in the matters to discuss, was absent from the meeting. He had not attended any of the dialogue sessions since it reconvened in 2008. He was represented by Hizbullah parliamentary leader Mohamed Raad. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri was also absent and represented by former Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, who also attends the National Dialogue in his own capacity. The leader of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, declined to participate. At the conclusion of the 11 June session, a declaration was issued recording the agreement of the participants on 17 points, including commitment to the promotion of calm on the security, political and media levels; avoidance of violence and recourse to arms; support for the Lebanese Armed Forces; making Lebanon neutral with respect to regional and international conflicts and the avoidance of the negative impact of regional crises, except in matters where there is an Arab or international consensus or relating to the Palestinian cause; and commitment to international resolutions.
37. Since 11 June, the National Dialogue convened three times, on 25 June, 16 August and 20 September. In the 25 June session, it was decided that President Sleiman should present his vision with regard to a national defence strategy, including the weapons issue, as a basis for the discussion. The participants reaffirmed their commitment to the joint Baabda Declaration of 11 June. They also called upon the Government to put in place mechanisms for implementing earlier decisions of the National Dialogue with regard to the Palestinians, including by addressing their social and humanitarian situation and Palestinian weapons outside the camps. On 16 August, after much uncertainty about the participation of the opposition, which insisted that the weapons of Hizbullah be discussed, the National Dialogue resumed talks and agreed to postpone discussions on national defence strategy until all members could be present; and to impose, through all legitimate means, security throughout Lebanon, including the establishment of a committee made up of members of the Dialogue to peacefully resolve the issue of kidnappings in the country.
40. With regard to the situation of Palestinians in Lebanon, the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has reiterated to me and to the Lebanese authorities its firm position that all Palestinians in Lebanon must respect the sovereignty and the political independence of Lebanon and adhere to Lebanese law and security requirements.
41. During the period under review, a series of incidents in Palestinian refugee camps have raised concern. On 17 May, the Lebanese Armed Forces arrested the driver of a vehicle suspected of carrying weaponry out of the Ain al-Hilweh camp. On 15 June, tensions increased in the Nahr al-Bared camp after the Lebanese Armed Forces arrested two young Palestinians. Residents subsequently pelted soldiers with stones who retaliated with gunfire, killing one Palestinian. In the ensuing clashes in Nahr al-Bared and Ain al-Hilweh on 18 June, two people were killed. In addition, a substantial number of camp residents and Lebanese Armed Forces personnel were injured. The incidents sparked demonstrations in other camps in Lebanon. The incidents highlighted the specific need to address access issues there while continuing to respect broader security concerns. In July, steps were taken to ease access restrictions that have applied at Nahr al-Bared since the fighting there in 2007. In addition, the Lebanese Armed Forces resumed their duties in and around the camp. Prime Minister Mikati met Palestinian representatives and appointed Khaldoun el-Sharif as the new Chairman of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee to promote Lebanese-Palestinian exchanges on the living conditions of refugees.
42. Beyond the incidents listed above, occasional security incidents and inter-factional clashes involving the use of weapons occurred in Ain al-Hilweh, causing some injuries but no fatalities. While the Lebanese authorities deem the cooperation with security authorities in the camp to be satisfactory, 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. With the exception of the Nahr al-Bared 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 refugee camps, was annulled by the Lebanese Parliament in 1987.
43. Humanitarian conditions for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have remained dire and precarious. In this regard, Prime Minister Mikati pledged to me again the intention of the Government to do its best to improve their living conditions. The United Nations has continued to urge the Lebanese authorities to improve the conditions in which Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon, notably by facilitating their access to the official labour market through the implementation of outstanding legislation, without prejudice to the eventual resolution of the Palestinian refugee question in the context of a comprehensive peace agreement in the region and bearing in mind the detrimental effects of dismal living conditions on the wider security situation. For its part, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is proceeding steadily with work to rebuild the Nahr al-Bared camp. Reconstruction of about a quarter of the camp has been finalized and further funding is in place to complete about half of the overall work. Further progress depends on donor support. In the meantime, displaced refugees need continuing support notably in the form of rental subsidies.
44. 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 in recent sessions of the National Dialogue, no progress was made with regard to dismantling the military bases of PFLP-GC and Fatah al-Intifadah in the country. All but one of these bases are located along the Syrian-Lebanese border. Their presence continues to undermine 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 these bases, and on the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic to cooperate with these efforts. During the month of May, the Secretary-General of PFLP-GC, Ahmad Jibril, visited Lebanon for the first time since 2006 and met with a number of political leaders, mostly from the March 8 coalition. During the visit, Jibril asserted that his group would not give up its arms and that the disarmament of Palestinian factions outside refugee camps in Lebanon would be conceivable only once the Arab-Israeli conflict was settled and the rights of the Palestinian people assured.
53. 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 PFLP-GC and Fatah al-Intifada outside the refugee camps. I was heartened by the renewed commitment expressed during the National Dialogue to implement this decision. 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.
54. I am deeply concerned by the situation of Palestinian refugees in the camps in Lebanon. I hope that the coming period will see more substantive Lebanese-Palestinian dialogue and progress in improving the unremittingly miserable living conditions of the refugees, including through the implementation of outstanding legislation to ease their employment. Such progress would not prejudice the eventual resolution of the Palestinian refugee question in the context of a comprehensive regional peace agreement. I urge donors to support UNRWA and its vital work in providing services to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.