The UK will continue to support Lebanon’s stability and economic security while being at the forefront of managing the repercussions of the Syria crisis, International Secretary of State Priti Patel said today at the end of a two day visit to the country.
As part of a wider visit to the region, her first overseas visit since taking office, Secretary of State Patel met with Lebanese ministerial counterparts to discuss the provision of UK aid and the enduring relationship between Britain and Lebanon. She also thanked the Lebanese Government and its people for their continued generosity and support in hosting over 1.5 million Syrian refugees.
Following her field visit, International Development Secretary Ms Patel said:
It was important to me to come to Lebanon on my first overseas visit as the UK’s International Development Secretary - to demonstrate the UK’s commitment to our strong partnership with Lebanon.
The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with the Lebanese people in dealing with the impacts of the Syria Crisis, including our vital partnership to reach all children with education.
Long-term stability and prosperity for Lebanon is in both the UK and the Lebanese national interest. We are working together to ensure the international community as a whole meets the commitments made at the London Conference.
The UK has been Lebanon’s foremost partner in strengthening the country’s education system since 2013, and the two governments share a common goal to ensure that there is ‘No Lost Generation’ by reaching all children in Lebanon with education. To date the UK has committed around £300m in Lebanon to support refugees and host communities since the beginning of the Syria crisis.
The Secretary of State visited an Informal Tented Settlement and a school in the Bekaa to see how the UK is supporting Lebanon with its local and international partners. She was accompanied by Education Minister Elias Bou Saab, UNHCR Country Director Mireille Girard, UNICEF Country Director Tanya Chapuisat and British ambassador Hugo Shorter. During the field visit, she met Syrian refugee students in a ‘catch-up programme’ to recover years of lost learning and prepare them to enter formal schools at the right learning levels. She also met with Syrian youth who shared their experiences of conflict and displacement, and their hopes to build a better future by enhancing their education and skills.
UNHCR Representative in Lebanon Mireille Gerard said:
Since the onset of the crisis, the UK has provided generous funding that has helped secure critical assistance to those who need it the most: thanks to support from the UK Government, UNHCR has been able to provide assistance to the most vulnerable refugee families so that they can cover their most pressing needs; to rehabilitate shelters such as the ones visited today to help refugees survive during winter and to give refugees access to essential health care. The UK is one of the main supporters of our programmes in Lebanon, and today’s visit demonstrates the close cooperation in support of Syrian refugees as well as Lebanese institutions and communities hosting them.
UNICEF Country Director Tanya Chapuisat said:
The majority of the 340,000 out-of-school children in Lebanon require substantial educational support to help them get back to - and stay in – school,” said UNICEF Representative in Lebanon, Tanya Chapuisat, “For these children, Non-Formal Education opportunities are lifelines providing a chance to enroll in public schools and the education they need to build better futures for themselves and their families. Many of them also need support to heal the wounds of a merciless war and protect them from violence, exploitation and abuse. The UK has been a committed partner in protecting the futures of these children and it is only through these continued investments we can hope to lessen the profound long-term consequences this crisis could have on Syria, the region.
During her visit she met Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, and held a joint press conference with Education Minister Elias Bou Saab. She also visited the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, an international initiative supported by the British Government aimed at supporting Lebanon’s knowledge economy.