Lebanon paralysis jeopardizes international support: UN chief

Beirut (AFP) – The international community will not show up for Lebanon if political paralysis continues to hamper the implementation of desperately needed reforms, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday.


"The international community will probably not -- independently of support that has already been provided -- respond the way it needs to respond if they see the country is paralysed," Guterres told a press conference at the end of a three-day visit to the crisis-hit country.

"We need the support of the international community to be much larger than it is today and the Lebanese people deserve it but there is homework that needs to be done in Lebanon," he said, referring to reforms.

Lebanon is grappling with an unprecedented economic crisis branded by the World Bank as one the planet's worst in modern times.

More than 80 percent of the population lives in poverty and the local currency has lost more than 90 percent of its value on the black market.

However, international donors have only funded 11 percent of the $383 million UN response plan for the country, Guterres said.

He urged Lebanese leaders to take steps to revive confidence, including by restarting talks with the International Monetary Fund.

"It is so important to restart negotiations with (the) IMF and to reestablish a credible plan for economic recovery... to mobilise the support of (the) international community but that requires political will," he said.

Political squabbling has repeatedly hampered financial recovery efforts, including talks with the IMF which were launched last year but soon hit a wall.

A new government, formed in September with the aim of carving a path out of the crisis, has failed to meet since October due to divisions over the fate of a probe into last year's monster port blast.