Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab Friday asked for the United Nations’ assistance in facing a multitude of challenges in facing the coronavirus pandemic, during a phone call with the organization’s chief.
Diab asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for 200 ICU beds and for the UN’s support in Lebanon’s vaccination campaign, according to a statement from his office.
The caretaker prime minister also briefed Guterres on the coronavirus situation in Lebanon and “stressed the need to rehabilitate public and private hospitals due to the depletion of their capacity to receive patients and COVID-19 cases, and the urgent need to equip them with ICUs and necessary medical equipment, including respirators,” the statement said.
According to the statement, the UN chief “expressed his full understanding of the difficult conditions Lebanon is going through.”
Guterres said that he would discuss with UN officials the best way to aid Lebanon in this regard alongside the work carried out by the World Health Organization and UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator Najat Roshdi.
During the economic and COVID-19 crises in Lebanon, many migrant workers like Faruk lost their jobs.— IOM - UN Migration (@UNmigration) January 22, 2021
This is his story. pic.twitter.com/ZQP43hRh2V
Diab also brought up the issue of daily Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty through airspace breaches, which have become more frequent in recent weeks, and the abduction this month of a Lebanese shepherd by Israeli soldiers from within Lebanese territories.
Lebanon is set to become the chair of UNRWA’s advisory committee in the summer, and Diab informed the UN chief that he aimed to cooperate with him on the issues the charity is facing, chief among them the lack of funding. Guterres in turn told Diab that the UNRWA file was one the UN’s “urgent priorities.”
As Lebanon faces an unprecedented economic crisis, exacerbated by the Beirut Port blast and the coronavirus pandemic, it has become increasingly difficult for the country to host more than a million Syrian refugees.
Diab briefed Guterres on the government’s plan on the return of these refugees to Syria, with the UN chief saying he would raise the issue with the High Commissioner for Refugees.
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