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UN wants help for Lebanon’s refugee challenge

September 26, 2013

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations is mobilizing support for Lebanon to help it counter the economic effects of hosting nearly a million Syrian refugees.

The International Support Group for Lebanon met Wednesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly to highlight the need to provide financial support for the refugees and the communities that host them.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised Lebanon’s response to the crisis.

The U.N. expects that the number of Syrian refugees registered for U.N. aid in Lebanon will exceed one million by the end of the year.

“I commend the Lebanese government and people for their openness and generosity,” Ban said.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, who attended the meeting, won praise from several speakers for his leadership of his country’s multi-sectarian society in the face of its neighbor’s sectarian conflict.

“President Suleiman has worked tirelessly to disassociate Lebanon from the war in Syria, an effort that I think everyone here both understands and supports,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

No concrete pledges of aid were made at the meeting, which was also attended by the foreign ministers of France, Russia and Britain and representatives from the European Union, the World Bank and the League of Arab States.

Lebanon has seen episodes of sectarian violence and kidnappings that reflect the dynamics of the Syrian conflict. It has also witnessed multiple bombings in recent months, the latest of which killed 47 and injured more than 400 in its northern city of Tripoli in August.

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