|Syrian refugee children collect plastics as they stand along a street in south of Sidon, southern Lebanon June 10, 2014. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho|
[AS ALWAYS PLEASE GO TO THE LINK TO READ GOOD ARTICLES IN FULL: HELP SHAPE ALGORITHMS (and conversations) THAT EMPOWER DECENCY, DIGNITY, JUSTICE & PEACE... and hopefully Palestine]http://news.yahoo.com/syrian-refugees-sectarian-tensions-endanger-lebanon-u-n-150552237.html
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA (Reuters) - Lebanon is at risk of crumbling as a state under the burden of 1.1 million Syrian refugees and foreign donors must make good on pledges of support to help it survive the crisis, the top U.N. official in the small coastal country warned on Monday.
Political and religious leaders in Lebanon, both Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim, so far have kept a lid on growing tensions but donor nations have not honored aid commitments, said Ross Mountain, the U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator.
"This is no longer just a humanitarian emergency," said Mountain. "It is what the former president (Michel Suleiman) described as an existential crisis for Lebanon. It's about the security of the country, the stability of the country and I would suggest what happens in Lebanon will affect the region."
Over 1.12 million refugees from Syria's civil war next door have registered in Lebanon, accounting for one-quarter of its population and exacerbating a severe water shortage, Mountain said. The influx is expected to reach 1.5 million by year-end.
"We fear (tensions) will expand even further and not only result in Syrian-Lebanese interactions but also unfortunately raise the specter of Lebanese-Lebanese inter-sectarian problems," Mountain told a news briefing in Geneva.
Syria's Sunni-Shi'ite sectarian divisions are largely mirrored in Lebanon, where civil war raged from 1975 to 1990.
Lebanese authorities have acknowledged the crisis, with the social affairs minister saying last week that the country faced political and economic collapse as the number of refugees threaten to exceed a third of the population.
The Middle East, reeling from crises in Syria, Iraq and now Gaza, does not need Lebanon to be mired in another civil war, he said. "If in our business it's important to talk about early warning, it's not early but I'm warning."
Yet donors have only contributed $500 million towards a $1.6 billion appeal for aid progams in Lebanon this year, he said.
"It certainly hinges on money but doesn't only hinge on money. While there have been a number of security incidents linked to extremists, some bombings a couple of months ago and the rise of ISIS, the good news at the moment is that the Lebanese security forces have been effective in limiting that."
ISIS - Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant - is an Islamist militant force in control of wide tracts of eastern Syria and adjacent northern Iraq. It recently shortened its name to Islamic State and, seeking to rewrite the Middle East map, has declared a mediaeval-style caliphate in the region it holds.