UK Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening visited Lebanon today, ahead of the Conference on Supporting Syria and the Region which will be held in London on 4 February. The Secretary of State met Prime Minister Tammam Salam, Speaker Nabih Berri, and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, and discussed plans for the forthcoming conference, as well as the situation in Syria and the region.
Greening also travelled to the Bekaa and saw how UKAid is helping Lebanese host communities cope with the impact of the Syria crisis through UK-funded UN programmes.
During her bilateral meetings with PM Salam, Speaker Berri and Foreign Minister Bassil, Greening reiterated the UK’s commitment to a stable and prosperous Lebanon that is able to provide for its citizens and manage the burden of the refugee crisis. She welcomed Lebanon’s participation in the Conference on Supporting Syria and the Region which will see countries from around the world, the UN, humanitarian and development partners, and civil society come together on 4 February 2016 to step up efforts to address the needs of those affected by this protracted crisis.
Justine Greening, accompanied by Ambassador Hugo Shorter and Minister Elias Bou Saab, met teachers and students at Borj Hammoud Intermediate Public school. She heard first-hand about how UK support is providing schoolbooks and free registration to hundreds of thousands of Lebanese and Syrian children from the principal, who said that “my school like many others are doing what they can to accommodate the huge number of refugee children. Without the support we are receiving it would be impossible to work”.
Greening also visited an informal tented settlement in the Bekaa. One mother, who had been living in the camp since 2012, told her, “living in the camp is better than living in anxiety of the war, but my only wish is to go home to my village. I wake up every day and look to the east behind that mountain there lies home”. UNHCR officials briefed about their winterisation programme.
Speaking at the end of the visit, the Secretary of State said:
Time and time again, I am moved by my visits to Lebanon, a country which continues to show generosity and resilience in the face of huge challenges. I discussed with Lebanese ministers and officials our common aim to get strong, multi-year commitments by the international community to support Lebanon’s stability and development.
The Conference we are co-hosting with Kuwait, Norway, Germany and the UN in London is an important opportunity to mobilise the international community to do more, and step up international efforts to address the needs of the millions of people affected by this protracted crisis. It aims to help countries like Lebanon whose government and people have shown such generosity in hosting huge numbers of refugees.
The UK has pledged over £300 million (over $465m) of support for refugees and host communities in Lebanon and we will continue to work alongside Lebanon. We’ve got to make sure there is No Lost Generation of Syrian children, and that displaced Syrian children and Lebanese children get an education and we improve the school system for all. It’s good for those children and good for Lebanon.
The Conference on Supporting Syria and the Region in London will also pave the way for a broader discussion about how the international community responds to protracted crises, in advance of the UK, UN and World Bank High-Level Forum on Forced Displacement in Protracted Crises later in 2016 and the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May.
The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) in partnership with MOSA and UNDP roughly doubled the support to host communities in 2015/16 to £9 million (over $13.5m), enabling us to partner with 49 of the most vulnerable municipalities, which we see as on the front line of the response. In doing so we are working closely with the mayors and members of the community.
The UK has pledged over £300 million (over $465m) of support for refugees and host communities in Lebanon, in addition to our contributions through the EU and UN.
In response to the Syria crisis, the UK has allocated over £1.1 billion since 2012 to over 30 implementing partners (including United Nations agencies, international non-governmental organisations and the Red Cross).
This is helping to meet the immediate needs of vulnerable people in Syria and of refugees in the region. In addition, £9.5 million from the UK Conflict, Stability and Security Fund has been allocated by DFID to support local capacity and build longer term stability. Our support is reaching millions of people and has saved lives in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.