UN chief warns 'world cannot afford Lebanon to become another Gaza'


 Amid soaring tensions along the Israel-Lebanon border, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has warned that one false move could trigger a catastrophe for the whole region and beyond.

"One rash move - one miscalculation - could trigger a catastrophe that goes far beyond the border, and frankly, beyond imagination," he told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.

Since the eruption of war in Gaza, Lebanon's armed group, Hezbollah, and Israel have been trading fire daily across the so-called Blue Line separating the two countries.

"I felt compelled today to voice my profound concerns about escalation between Israel and Hezbollah along the Blue Line," Guterres said.

"Escalation in continued exchanges of fire. And escalation in bellicose rhetoric from both sides, as if an all-out war was imminent. The risk for the conflict in the Middle East to widen is real -- and must be avoided," he said.

The UN chief also highlighted that on both sides of the Blue Line, many people have already lost their lives and been driven from their homes and livelihoods.

On Thursday, Hezbollah's leader issued a warning to Israel amid reports that the Israeli military has approved plans for an offensive on southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah has been exchanging fire with Israel for the past eight months in solidarity with its Palestinian ally, Hamas, in Gaza.

"Let's be clear: The people of the region and the people of the world cannot afford Lebanon to become another Gaza," said Guterres.

He added that UN peacekeepers were on the ground working to de-escalate tensions and help prevent miscalculation.

"The world must say loudly and clearly: immediate de-escalation is not only possible – it is essential," he said. "There is no military solution."

He also underscored the need to protect civilians, ensure that children, journalists and medical workers are not targeted, and ensure the displaced can return to their homes.

Guterres added that the UN supported diplomatic efforts to end the violence, restore stability, and avoid even greater human suffering in the region

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