In a demonstration of the UK’s commitment to Lebanon’s stability, British Ambassador Hugo Shorter visited Qaa to express the UK’s solidarity with the municipality and its people and to see first-hand how the UK is supporting vulnerable border communities by strengthening the Lebanese Army and funding development projects which will improve their daily lives.
Ambassador Shorter visited the municipality of Qaa and St Elias Church to convey his heartfelt condolences to the Mayor Bachir Mattar represented by the municipality members, Father Elian Nasrallah and residents, following the shocking terrorist attack that hit the village last month.
In response to the security threats facing the Baalbek region, on the same day Ambassador Shorter gifted 4th Land Border Regiment (4LBR) with 1000 sets of body armour and welcomed the ongoing mobilisation of 4LBR. General Salloum, commander of 4LBR welcomed the contribution, which will bring the UK’s total gift of body armour to 3,300 individual sets under the ‘Train and Equip’ programme.
In Qaa, Ambassador Shorter heard about the needs of the community and stressed that the UK would continue its support, which already includes a municipal project to create a safe, educational play area and park for the village’s children.
Ambassador Shorter also met the Governor of Baalbeck-Hermel Bashir Khodor and MP Emile Rahme, to hear about their hopes for Baalbeck and the region, and discussed the many projects the UK funds in the region through the United Nations Development Programme and the Ministry of Social Affairs. These include sustainable solar street lighting keeping residents safe in Talia; agricultural equipment helping to support families in Haouch Barada, as well as vital road improvements and in Baalbeck, an improved sewage network for better health and sanitation, as well as renovation of the old souq.
At the end of the visit Ambassador Shorter said:
I would like to thank Qaa residents for their warm hospitality and reception at such a difficult time. It’s deeply moving to see the unity you have demonstrated in the face of division. This was an attack against all Lebanese, and we remain determined to support Lebanon’s stability and its fight against terrorism on all its territory. As Patriarch Rai said last week, the Lebanese State has a primary responsibility to protect the Lebanese and their security. That’s why, at this time of great challenges and threats, the UK continues to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces with training and equipment to match their courage. On the occasion of the upcoming anniversary of Army Day, I would like to reiterate that the LAF are on the frontline in the fight against Daesh, and strengthening their capacity across the Lebanese border, in addition to helping local communities thrive and prosper, remains a UK priority. Lebanon is a beautiful country – I was lucky enough to witness today its great cultural inheritance –it must be protected.
The UK’s support to the Lebanese Army enables them to build their capabilities, strengthen the country’s borders and protect the Lebanese people. By 2019, the UK aims to have trained over 11,000 Lebanese soldiers in the specialist techniques of urban counter-terrorism. Since 2012 the UK’s overall support to the Lebanese Armed Forces has reached over £60m.