Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 30, 2013

The United States welcomes Lebanon's decision to fulfill its 2013 funding obligations to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. We recognize and commend caretaker Prime Minister Mikati's strong leadership in ensuring that the government met this important commitment. We fully support the work of the Tribunal and its efforts to find and hold accountable those responsible for reprehensible and destabilizing acts of violence in Lebanon.

The December 27 assassination bombing in Beirut is a stark reminder that for too long, Lebanon has suffered from a culture of impunity for those who use murder and terror to promote their political agenda against the interests of the Lebanese people. The Tribunal, working with the Government of Lebanon, will help end this impunity by providing a transparent, fair process to determine responsibility for the terrorist attack that killed former Prime Minister Hariri and scores of others.

Continued financial support and ongoing cooperation by Lebanon's political, judicial, and law enforcement authorities are critical to the Tribunal's work. That is why the United States has provided strong financial support to the Tribunal since its inception, and we will continue to do so. We urge the international community to continue to support the Tribunal and the Government of Lebanon to achieve the shared goals of ensuring justice and ending impunity. We stand with the Lebanese people in these efforts and will continue to do so.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Bombing in Lebanon

December 27, 2013
The U.S. Embassy in Beirut advises U.S. citizens in Lebanon of the bombing today in Beirut that caused at least eight deaths and left more than 70 wounded.  Although there is no indication that U.S. citizens or interests were targets of this attack, this bombing follows the November 19 bombing of the Iranian Embassy in the southern suburb of Beirut that resulted in at least 23 dead and 100 injured, and other bombings and security incidents that occurred in Lebanon in recent months.

In light of these recent security incidents, the U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens in Lebanon to exercise heightened security awareness of their surroundings at all times, and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and security.  Spontaneous demonstrations, neighborhood and sectarian disputes can escalate quickly, leading to gunfire and other violence with little or no warning.  Be conscious of your personal security at all times.  The Embassy urges all U.S. citizens in Lebanon to monitor the media for the latest developments.

The U.S. Embassy further urges all U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon due to safety and security concerns.  The current travel warning can be seen at this link:  Travel Warning for Lebanon.  U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks.  The ability of U.S. government personnel to reach travelers to provide emergency services may be limited. 

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Lebanon enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don't have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department's website, Travel.State.Gov, where you can find current Travel Warnings, including the Travel Warning for Lebanon, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  You can also read the Country Specific Information for Lebanon from within this website.  For additional information, refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad" on the State Department's website.

Contact the U.S. Embassy for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler App available through iTunes and Google Play to have travel information at your fingertips. 

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut Lebanon is located at Awkar facing the Municipality, PO Box 70-840, Beirut and is open Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4:30 PM, (961) (4) 542600 or (961) (4) 543600.  If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the emergency number for the U.S. Embassy is (961) (4) 542600 or (961) (4) 543600.  For further information, U.S. citizens may also access our website at Embassy in Lebanon.

UNIFIL Updated Media line on the rocket firing of 29 Dec 2013

30 December 2013
Following last morning's rocket firing from southern Lebanon towards Israel, later yesterday the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) found four rocket firing sites with improvised launch mechanisms in the El Khraibe area east of El Khiam.
UNIFIL investigators, accompanied by LAF, inspected the launch sites, all four of which were located in close vicinity of each other.
UNIFIL also inspected one site near Sarda in southern Lebanon where one of the rockets had impacted after apparently falling short of its intended range, as well as an impact site for the Israeli artillery shelling indicated by the LAF close to the rocket launch area. UNIFIL's air reconnaissance observed several other impacts of the IDF shelling scattered around the same general area. UNIFIL radars had detected a total of 32 artillery shells fired by the IDF shortly after the rockets were launched and directed at the area from where the rockets had been fired.
Yesterday, a UNIFIL investigation team visited northern Israel and inspected one rocket impact site near Kiryat Shmona.
Preliminary investigations indicate that the perpetrators had attempted to fire at least four rockets towards Israel, two of which impacted in northern Israel in the general area of Kiryat Shmona and a third fell within Lebanon near Sarda. Initial indications are that the fourth rocket exploded at the launch site.
UNIFIL investigations are ongoing in close coordination with the LAF to unravel all the facts and circumstances relating to this incident of grave violation of resolution 1701 and one that had a dangerous potential to escalate further.
UNIFIL is in regular contact with the parties who have reaffirmed their commitment to the cessation of hostilities and are working in cooperation with UNIFIL to maintain the calm that has since been restored along the Blue Line.
UNIFIL in close coordination with LAF has intensified its patrols across its area of operations to prevent any further incidents.
The situation in UNIFIL's area of operations is calm.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Terrorist Attack and Assassination of Mohamad Chatah

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
December 27, 2013

On behalf of President Obama and the United States, I condemn in the strongest possible terms today's abhorrent terrorist attack and assassination of former Lebanese Cabinet Minister Mohamad Chatah in Beirut.
This is a terrible loss for Lebanon, the Lebanese people and for the United States.
I had the privilege of spending many hours with Chatah during my visits to Beirut as a United States Senator, and I know he was a voice of reason, responsibility and moderation. His presence will be missed, but his vision for a united Lebanon, free from sectarian violence and destabilizing interference, will continue to guide our efforts.
Indeed, his tragic end reminds all of us just why his vision remains so imperative.
The Obama Administration supports Lebanon as its leaders work to bring those responsible for this heinous and cowardly attack to justice under the rule of law.
Such actions cannot be allowed to take place with impunity.
This is why we fully support the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and its efforts to find and hold accountable those responsible for these reprehensible and destabilizing acts.
These acts only reinforce the strength and resolve of our commitment to support legitimate, unifying security forces in Lebanon, such as the Lebanese Armed Forces.
It also shows the importance of all parties adhering to the Taif and Baabda agreements and UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1710, and fulfilling their commitments to all of those principles, so that Lebanon maintains its sovereignty and stability.
We stand with the Lebanese people at this time and will continue to do so.

U.S. Embassy Condemns Assassination of Mohammad Chatah

December 27, 2013
The United States condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attack that killed former Finance Minister Mohammad Chatah. Minister Chatah had a long history of promoting Lebanon's stability and democratic principles in both Lebanon and abroad through his work within the Lebanese government, as Lebanon's Ambassador to the United States, and at the International Monetary Fund. The United States extends its deepest condolences to Minister Chatah's family, as well as to the families of everyone killed and injured today.
We expect that the Lebanese authorities will take the necessary actions to investigate thoroughly and bring those involved in today's attack to justice. We reiterate our support for the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces as legitimate government institutions that protect and serve all Lebanese. Today's attack only reinforces the United States' commitment to advocate for implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1701, the Taif Agreement and Baabda Declaration as the means to support a stable, secure and free Lebanon.

Monday, December 23, 2013

U.S. Supports Launch of the 2014 Regional Response Plan to Help Lebanon and Syrian Refugees

December 16, 2013
Today U.S. Ambassador David Hale joined Prime Minister Najib Mikati, United Nations officials, and other members of the diplomatic corps at the launch of the 2014 UN Regional Response Plan for Lebanon.  Ambassador Hale recognized the hard work of the Lebanese and international relief organizations for their efforts to help refugees from Syria and to assist Lebanon cope with the high number of people fleeing the war.
The 2014 Regional Response Plan requests $1.7 billion in aid to help Lebanon assist up to 1.65 million Syrians, Palestinians and Lebanese who have fled Syria due to the conflict.  Contributions will also provide urgent support to Lebanese communities hosting refugees from Syria to improve public services, such as health care and education, and provide basic infrastructure support.
As the top bilateral donor to the humanitarian response in Lebanon and the region, the United States is committed to continuing its strong support for the refugees and the communities in which they now live.  The United States has provided more than $254 million in humanitarian assistance to organizations in Lebanon to deliver food, shelter, and medical care to refugees and Lebanese communities affected by the crisis.  In September, Secretary John Kerry announced an additional $30 million to support Lebanese host community needs. 
 "Today's event comes at a critical time," Ambassador Hale said. "As the Lebanese Government, UN agencies, and NGO partners respond to the winter storm Alexa and manage the recent influx of 20,000 additional Syrian refugees to Arsal."
 "These challenges further highlight the urgency of strong international support to the Regional Response Plan," he continued.  "The size of the appeal underscores the scope and magnitude of the humanitarian emergency in Lebanon and should serve as a wake-up call to the world as to the gravity of the situation."
With the number of refugees increasing, Lebanon's longer-term development needs must also be considered.  The United States commends the Government of Lebanon's efforts, in partnership with the World Bank and the United Nations, in designing a plan that prioritizes Lebanon's needs as it copes with the myriad of immediate and long-term issues. 
"It is clear that Lebanon faces great challenges in responding to this regional crisis," Ambassador Hale said. "But Lebanon will not face these challenges alone.  The United States and the international community will stand by Lebanon to help meet the short, medium, and long-term needs of the Lebanese people and the refugees that Lebanon hosts."

Audit Bureau approves paying Lebanon's share of funding STL decree

Mon 23 Dec 2013
NNA - Ministry of Finance issued a statement in which it mentioned that Caretaker Minister of Finance, Mohammad Safadi, was informed from the Audit Bureau head, Judge Aouni Ramadan, that the Bureau approved the decree of paying Lebanon's share in funding the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). 
Accordingly, the decree becomes active according to the observed procedures.