Acting U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Pernille Dahler Kardel urged Lebanese leaders to form a “national unity government” that would “disarm all armed groups,” hoping that the situation would be ready for the “big return” of Syrian refugees in a “safe, voluntary dignified manner” to their country, the Saudi Asharq al-Awsat reported on Wednesday.
In an interview to the daily, Kardel raised concerns about a “delayed Cabinet formation,” hinting at “possible consequences as a result,” and stressed that Lebanon needs a “consensus government, a national unity government, ensuring that Lebanon can continue its important partnership with the international community.”
On the international community’s demands to disarm Hizbullah, Kardel pointed out to the latest report of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the implementation of U.N. resolution 1701.
“The disarmament of non-state armed groups is really important for the stability of Lebanon,” said Kardel, and noted that President Michel Aoun plans “to hold discussions on the national defense strategy within the framework of national dialogue.”
Kardel’s office issued a statement on Thursday clarifying that the U.N. official “did not make any specific reference in the article to any parties or groups in Lebanon.” Asharq al-Awsat had referred to Hizbullah in the interview’s title and lead.
On the thorny issue of Syrian refugees and their repatriation to Syria, Kardel noted “the issue has topped Lebanon’s agenda recently. Lebanese authorities are committed to the international principles of not imposing forced returns on refugees, although some of them have decided to to return voluntarily. We want this process to be as successful as possible.
“The U.N. views the presence of Syrian refugees as temporary. A solution should be found through their voluntarily return to their country, when the conditions are suitable,” but “ if they can not return, we should find an alternative solution,” she concluded.