As part of his ongoing regional tours, Ambassador Shorter held constructive meetings with Baakline’s mayor Abdallah El Ghosseini and head of the union of municipalities of Chouf-Souweijani Yehya Bou Karroum, municipal members accompanied by Celine Moyroud, UNDP Lebanon Country Director and George Antoun, Mercy Corps Lebanon Country Director. Discussions focused on the latest development projects in the area and needs. He also toured UK funded projects and spoke to beneficiaries around the positive impact the programmes are having on people’s lives.
As part of the UK’s support to Lebanon’s Host Communities Support Programme (LHSP) in partnership with the Ministry of Social Affairs and UNDP, Ambassador Shorter visited the construction site where work is underway to rehabilitate storm water drainage canals. Baakline suffers from recurrent floods, particularly during winter, affecting residential areas in the village and the souk. The project will benefit over 9,400 people, around 300 housing units and 55 shops.
Ambassador Shorter also inspected UK support to the Union of El Souaijani – under Mercy Corps’ ‘INTAJ’ programme - to develop their waste management facility in the area and neighboring municipalities beyond the Union reaching over 7,000 households.
Safeguarding it’s cultural heritage, historic significance and role in promoting intercultural dialogue, the UK provided a book scanner to Baakline’s National Library that hosts over 50,000 visitors a year. The largest library in Lebanon, it is home to over 150,000 books in Arabic, English and French, and around 250,000 newspapers and magazines in the section of documentation and archives. The book scanner will help with archiving, preventing the loss of ancient, fragile books and manuscripts, produce high quality images of books, provide printable e-books for readers and more to attract more students and visitors.
At the end of his visit Ambassador Shorter said:
It’s great to be back in Chouf the heart of Mount Lebanon. Baakline’s historic library and olive trees are a symbol of this town’s ancient history and heritage. It was an opportunity to see how the UK is helping host communities, residents of this area and its cultural heritage through our projects in support of the union of municipalities on waste management and promoting intercultural dialogue.
I am pleased to say that the UK is now supporting over 1 in 5 Lebanese municipalities across Lebanon with over $30 million over 18 months under LHSP. By 2019 we will have reached over 1,440,000 people and more than 220 municipalities. We have also been supporting ‘INTAJ’ led by Mercy Corps targeting economic opportunities. By March 2018 we had invested £12.7m supporting more than 30,000 vulnerable Lebanese communities and refugees and created around 1,400 new full-time jobs.
The UK as a strong supporter of Lebanon remains committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with Lebanon now and into the future.