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European Deputy Director-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Maciej Popowski visited Lebanon on 12 October 2018.
He met with Acting Minister of Social Affairs Pierre Bou Assi, emphasising the European Union's partnership with the Ministry. Deputy Director-General Popowski recognised the positive role played by the Ministry in coordinating the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan and in providing social protection support to vulnerable populations in the country through Social Development Centres. The discussion also focused on the recently adopted social assistance programme under the European Union Regional Trust Fund, from which the Ministry will receive technical assistance to support the development of its National Poverty Targeting Programme over a period of 30 months.
He also met with the Director General at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Fady Yarak, and reaffirmed the European Union's continuous engagement in the public education sector in Lebanon. The European Union is in fact one of the largest donors to the sector, providing the needed support to respond to the needs arising from the refugee crisis, while strengthening the public education system in the country. Deputy Director-General Popowski commended Lebanon's efforts to ensure an increased access to education to vulnerable Lebanese and refugee children.
During the remainder of the day, Deputy Director-General Popowski visited several projects funded by the European Union through the Regional Trust Fund in Saida and Beirut. He stopped by the Sarafand Social Development Centre, a beneficiary of UNICEF's Child Protection Programme, and attended community-based activities for children and parenting support sessions. He also visited a rehabilitated community centre in Saida that provides psychosocial, active learning, youth training and parents' awareness sessions, as part of the Youth Resolve Project led by World Vision. He finally toured a public school supported by UNICEF in Beirut, where he met the students, principal and teachers of the afternoon shift.
The European Union has considerably stepped up its support to Lebanon since the onset of the Syrian crisis, mobilising over €1.5 billion in assistance to vulnerable Lebanese and refugees. Of this amount, €520 million has been mobilised by the European Union Regional Trust Fund to support various sectors including education, protection, health, water, sanitation and hygiene.