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European Union Ambassador Christina Lassen and British Ambassador Chris Rampling visited the Beqaa today to take stock of EU and UK support to the local communities.
Ambassador Lassen visited Arsal where she met with the Head of Municipality, Mr Bassel al Hujeiri to discuss future EU support to the Arsal area. After that she headed to the Inmaa Informal Settlement where the International Rescue Committee is implementing a programme for the protection of adolescent girls with support from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). The ambassador then met with representatives from the Norwegian People’s Aid and Mines Advisory Group near landmine contaminated area where a new mine clearing programme will soon be launched with EU support to the benefit of the Arsal population.
Ambassador Lassen was later joined by UK Ambassador Rampling at the Kayany Foundation all-girls school in Bar Elias. They saw how the science laboratories installed, and the academic and scholarship guidance, alongside psychosocial support activities, are benefiting the youth, both refugees and Lebanese, thanks to a grant from the HOPES project funded by the European Union, and through the PADILEIA programme funded by the UK's Department for International Development (DFID).
Both activities are being implemented by the American University of Beirut's Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service.
The visit to the Beqaa concluded with a tour of cherry orchards in Zahle and a discussion with farmers who have received extensive technical and business trainings with EU experts through the EU's private sector development programme.
"Our visit to the Beqaa today showcases the vast array of support that the EU and its Member States are providing in Lebanon," Ambassador Lassen said. "It shows that humanitarian aid, safety, security, education and economic development go hand-in-hand if local communities are to prosper and be able to face the difficult economic and social challenges that affect the region" she added. 'The EU and the UK are working closely together to support Lebanon and will continue to do so.'
After the visit Ambassador Rampling said: "I’m very pleased to be joining my EU colleague and friend Ambassador Lassen on a visit to the Bekaa today, to see first-hand how the UK and EU support is helping communities cope with the Syrian refugee crisis. It is good to see how DFID funding is allowing programmes like PADILEIA provide short and long term study programmes for Lebanese and Syrian students. This programme is reaching 10,000s of children.
The UK is preparing to leave the European Union. Throughout this process and beyond, the UK and the EU delegations in Lebanon will continue working as closely together as ever for a strong and stable Lebanon, strengthening the institutions, supporting education so no one child is left behind, and funding projects and initiatives to improve economic opportunities and job opportunities for all. And indeed, the UK will continue to work with all our European friends and allies to build long-term relationships with key Lebanese institutions and to support hundreds of thousands of Lebanese and refugees alike. The UK and EU have and always will share common values of upholding democracy, human rights, rule of law and open societies. This alliance will continue."