BEIRUT: An international meeting in New York next week will likely lead to more assistance to the Lebanese Army and economy, sources close to Baabda Palace told The Daily Star Tuesday.
The sources said that the participants of the meeting set to convene for the sake of discussing Lebanon specifically on Sept. 25, an initiative taken by France, would voice their support for stability in the country and call for distancing it from regional conflicts with strict adherence to the Baabda Declaration.
The Declaration was agreed upon by rival political parties during a National Dialogue session chaired by President Michel Sleiman at Baabda Palace on June 2012, and calls for disassociating Lebanon from regional turmoil, particularly the civil war in neighboring Syria.
The meeting is likely to provide support for the Lebanese economy by establishing a trust fund affiliated with the World Bank or through other means, the sources said.
Attendees are also expected to express support for Sleiman and Lebanese constitutional institutions, as well as pledge assistance for the Army.
The sources said the fact that the conference would mention the Lebanese Army by name reflected the international community’s appreciation of efforts made by the military to preserve stability in Lebanon.
The sources also added it was very rare that the Army and the president of a state would be mentioned in international conferences.
The meeting would also back efforts made by the Lebanese state to address the mounting problem of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
Representatives of permanent member-states of the U.N. Security Council are expected to attend the conference, some through their ministers.
Catherine Ashton, the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby, World Bank President Robert Zoellick and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres are likely to attend the conference as well.
The final statement of the meeting is also expected to specify mechanism to provide assistance for Lebanon and set dates for upcoming meetings.
The meeting will convene on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in which Sleiman is slated to participate.
The conference comes as Lebanon goes through a severe political crisis. The country has been under a caretaker government since March.
Lebanon has also witnessed a number of security incidents, with at least 77 people killed last month in car bomb attacks that ripped through Beirut’s southern suburbs and the city of Tripoli.
The sources said that the idea of holding the meeting in Lebanon was first mulled over by foreign diplomats with the aim of helping the country tackle the problem of Syrian refugees.
Over a million Syrian refugees have flocked to Lebanon since the outbreak of unrest in their country in March 2011, with more than 700,000 registered with the UNHCR.
A donor conference convened in Kuwait in January promised financial assistance to countries hosting Syrian refugees. However, the sources said that many of the pledged funds did not reach Lebanon, with donor states arguing that Lebanon lacked the capabilities to efficiently distribute assistance to Syrian refugees.
Also, the Lebanese government considers that receiving financial aid is not enough to help the country in addressing the problem of refugees.
Lebanon argues that all countries surrounding Syria should share the burden of hosting Syrian refugees in a fair and just manner, and calls for discussing the idea of establishing refugee camps for Syrians in safe Syrian territories, as Syria is 18 times the size of Lebanon.
The sources said that since it was difficult to hold a conference to discuss the problem of Syrian refugees in Lebanon only, the international community decided to hold two conferences: one specifically for Lebanon on Sept. 25, and another to be held in Geneva on Sept. 30, under the patronage of the UNHCR.
The second conference aims at helping countries surrounding Syria in dealing with the problem of refugees.
According to the sources, committees were already formed to visit some states and convince them to receive specific numbers of Syrian refugees or to discuss helping them return home and reintegrate into their society.