UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned Wednesday that the conflict in Syria is having a serious impact on neighboring Lebanon, citing increased cross-border violence and broader threats to stability and security.
Ban said the spillover of the 2 1/2-year Syrian conflict has caused more than 800,000 Syrians to flee to Lebanon, straining the country’s finances and increasing social pressures.
In a report to the UN Security Council circulated Wednesday, he condemned the shelling, shooting and aerial incursions into Lebanon and called on all parties to respect the border. He said the shelling had injured one Lebanese citizen and caused “material damage.”
The Lebanese Armed Forces also reported “continued smuggling of weapons across the Lebanese-Syrian border,” Ban said.
The UN chief reiterated his call on Hezbollah militants to stop fighting in Syria, where they are supporting President Bashar Assad’s military.
“The continued involvement of Lebanese citizens in the conflict in Syria is of deep concern, including Hezbollah’s acknowledged and high profile role in the fighting there,” Ban said.
The secretary-general said the Syrian conflict was a contributing factor for two terrorist attacks in the southern suburbs of Beirut in July and August and simultaneous car bombings in Tripoli later in August.
The deepening unrest in Lebanon is a troubling sign for a country that has gone through its own 15-year civil war and has an explosive sectarian mix as well as deep divisions between pro- and anti-Syria factions, many of them armed.
In May, Lebanon’s parliament extended its mandate by a year and a half by skipping scheduled elections largely because of the instability in the country. Politicians also have been unable to form a new government since outgoing premier Najib Mikati resigned in March.
Ban urged all parties to engage with Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam to form a new government to address the crises impact on Lebanon.
He also appealed to UN members to step up contributions to an appeal for over $1.6 billion to address refugee needs in Lebanon through the end of 2013. The appeal is only 44 percent funded.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.