UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has announced that, to show support for a country battling a financial crisis, COVID-19 and the fallout from last year’s port blast, he will visit Lebanon from Sunday to Wednesday.
It is said that Guterres will meet top Lebanese officials, including President Michel Aoun, Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati as well as religious leaders and campaigners. The UN chief will also be paying tribute to victims of the Beirut port blast and meet peacekeepers on the border with Israel.
The UN Secretary-General also added that he would “express solidarity with people who have suffered for far too long” in Lebanon. “The first thing that’s necessary is that the political leaders of Lebanon come together,” Guterres told reporters during the announcement.
“The paralysis of the institutions, of course, leads to the impossibility to reach an agreement with the IMF, to the impossibility to launch effective economic programs and to create the conditions for the country to initiate the recovery.”
A large section of the capital Beirut was destroyed in August 2020 when an explosion in the capital’s port resulted in the death of more than 200 people.
The country is also in economic free-fall since 2019 and is currently seeking a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Lebanese families have been driven into poverty as the Lebanese pound plummeted, while the political deadlock in the country has harmed efforts to tackle a mountain of public debt and drive new investment.