Lebanon on the road to stability
Lebanon has announced a new government, breaking the political deadlock that engulfed the country for almost a year.
Along with the new announcement of a new government, a new Prime Minister was declared.
New Prime Minister Tammam Salam declared on live television that a government in the national interest was formed in a spirit of inclusivity.
Salam added that his “national interest government” had a mandate to fight the country’s surging security problem which he linked to violence spilled over by Syria’s civil war.
Salam also hoped that the new government will open the doors for stability and end to sectarian violence.
Lebanon is affected severely by the conflict in Syria and growing terrorism raging the country.
Aside from addressing it economic and political needs, Lebanon is also facing the need as hosting country for massive Syrian refugees and also bolstering its counterterrorism efforts.
US welcomes the formation of the new government
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the formation of the government as “an important first step” towards addressing Lebanon’s recent political uncertainty.
He said the people of Lebanon deserve a government that responds to their needs and protects their interests.
“We look to today’s announcement to be an important first step in addressing the political uncertainty that has hampered Lebanon in recent years.” – Secretary Kerry
She said the United States reiterated its strong commitment to Lebanon’s sovereignty, security, and stability.
In addition, the United States is looking forward to working effectively with the new Lebanese government to bolster peace, stability and prosperity in Lebanon, for the sake of the Lebanese people.
Syrian Crisis Pushing Lebanon To Brink Of Poverty
According to a World Bank/UN assessment, 170,000 Lebanese are being pushed into poverty by the Syria crisis.
The US said Lebanon will likely suffer cumulative economic losses of $7.5 billion by the end of 2014 and a doubling of the unemployment rate to 20 percent.
In addition, Lebanese government expenditures have increased $1.1 billion due to the increased demand for public services, according to the World Bank/UN assessment.
Refugees from Syria now make up 20 percent of the population in Lebanon, on top of the 400,000 Palestinian refugees that Lebanon has hosted for decades.
In addition, Lebanon has opened its hospitals, clinics, and schools to refugees and is struggling to cope with the strain on its public services.
To address this problem, the U.S. government continues to support Lebanon through emergency response and longer-term development assistance.
At present the USAID is working to improve the lives of Lebanese citizens and their communities by enhancing economic opportunity, increasing access to education, improving water and wastewater services, strengthening civil society and municipalities and protecting the environment.
In addition, Secretary Kerry announced plans to provide an additional $30 million in direct assistance for growing needs in Lebanon’s host communities.
On December 16, the UN issued new funding appeals for 2014 totaling $6.5 billion for 2014. The appeals will respond to the immediate humanitarian needs of those inside Syria and refugees in the region.
The violence in Syria, which began in March 2011 as a protest movement similar to those witnessed across the Middle East and North Africa, has claimed over 100,000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced around 6.5 million, and 2 million of those are now outside Syria. The current estimate of deaths at the time of writing, range from 95,000 to 130,000.