Hezbollah dragging Lebanon to war
With the massive influx of Syrian refugees crossing the borders its and Hezbollah rebels supporting the Assad regime, progress in Lebanon is threatened by the turmoil faced its neighbor particularly the civil war in Syria.
In a testimony in Washington DC, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Mr. Lawrence Silverman for Near Eastern Affairs said Hezbollah’s stepping outside the state to use arms and violence when it wishes, is deeply threatening.
He said extremists fighting the Assad regime and Hezbollah backers have brought their fight inside Lebanon through a wave of reprehensible terrorist attacks that have killed and injured scores in Beirut and other cities.
Incidents of terrorism also increased and threatens security situation in Lebanon with the ongoing dangers from Hezbollah’s support for the Assad regime and the flow of violent extremists, whether they be from the al-Nusra front version in Lebanon, the Islamic state of Iraq in the Levant and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades.
In addition, Lebanon hosts more Syrian refugees than any other country in the region, nearly 940,000 or more. With this number of refugees, there is no a single Lebanese community that has not been affected by the refugee crisis.
dragging the Lebanese people into a war in defense of the Assad regime
According to Mr. Silverman,Lebanon’s unique security problems as far as the border, Hezbollah’s weapon stockpiles beyond government control. He said there is the need for armed groups to be disarmed.
In addition, the existing political and sectarian differences have been intensified by the war in Syria.
He pointed out that Hezbollah entered that war contrary to the agreement of all Lebanese parties to dissociate Lebanon from foreign conflicts.
“Hezbollah, on behalf of its foreign supporters, is dragging the Lebanese people into a war in defense of the Assad regime.” – Mr. Silverman
States is helping Lebanon respond to these challenges
According to Mr. Silverman, the refugee crisis represents an urgent imperative need.
“Lebanon faces broader issues and the United States is helping Lebanon respond to these challenges.” – Mr. Lawrence
He announced that the United States is doing its part to help Lebanon deal with the burden, providing over $340 million in assistance.
US is also urging other countries to meet the pledges that they have made.
With the Syrian conflict showing no sign of stopping, there is a damaging economic spillover through the tourism sector to investment and trade in Lebanon.
According to World Bank, it has been estimated that the crisis will cut real GDP growth by 2.9 percent this year. And losses from the conflict would reach $7.5 billion.
Swelling number of Syrian refugees crossing Lebanon’s borders
In addition, the turmoil in Syria is forcing more and more people from their homes, with 30,000 people believed to have fled Syria into neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq over the past week alone.
With growing influx of civilians fleeing from conflict, humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate.
Reports say up to 1.5 million Syrians are in need of assistance.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that civilians attempting to flee from fighting need urgent assistance and protection.
OCHA reported that aid agencies continue to face significant access constraints to reaching people in need.
In addition, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that it needs additional funds of around $14 million for its response to the crisis in Syria. Along with its partners, UNICEF is providing assistance to Syrian children in need in areas such as health, nutrition, education and child protection.
UN estimates that there are over 1 million Syrians inside Syria in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Of that number, it’s an estimated 300,000 internally displaced.
There are over 66,000 refugees in neighboring countries and there are existing refugees, Palestinian refugees, totaling about 500,000 inside Syria as well as a hundred thousand Iraqi refugees inside Syria.
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 130,000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands.