“It’s that time of year when world leaders meet for the UN General Assembly’s annual session (UNGA). And as in previous years, there will be prominent discussions about what more the international community can do to support Lebanon. Since the Syria crisis began, Lebanon has faced social, economic and security challenges. This week’s events show that the international community – at the highest level – recognizes those challenges and values the efforts made by Lebanon to cope with the influx of refugees,” the ambassadors stated.

“Many readers may be asking: what’s in it for Lebanon? The international community’s message is that Lebanon is not alone. At the London Conference in February, the international community pledged more than has ever been pledged before at a single event: $12bn to support Syria and the region over 5 years. And already $1.22bn has been committed by the international community in Lebanon for 2016, to support Lebanon as well as its temporary Syrian guests,” added the statement.

“UNGA will build on this. For the first time, Heads of State and Government will meet to agree on a more constructive international response to handle large movements of refugees and migrants, such as those affecting Lebanon and the region.”

“Secondly, a London Conference follow-up event will look at the next steps for donor support. In the case of Lebanon, the focus will be supporting the government and Ministry of Education’s RACE initiative to ensure that that there is ‘No Lost Generation’ and that refugee children and needy Lebanese have access to quality education,” they went on to say.

“Again, just as in London, the international community wants to make clear: we are creating a longer-term partnership with Lebanon which goes beyond provision of humanitarian assistance and moves toward development projects that will benefit the country and its economy for years to come. Planning for the future is key: by equipping Syrians with the skills for their safe and voluntary return, so that they can contribute to the reconstruction of their home country; but also by positioning Lebanon as a hub to benefit from that reconstruction.”

“In fact, international support is already making a difference up and down the country,” they remarked.

“Over one million inhabitants have benefited so far since 2013 from the Lebanon Host Communities Support Project, a partnership between UNDP and the Ministry of Social Affairs which allows municipalities to set their own priorities. In Tripoli 173,000 people are benefitting from improved security, social services and public spaces, including renovation of a garden used by 1,000 people. In Saida, 23,000 people can enjoy the revived corniche lit by solar-power. In Aitanit (Bekaa), a rehabilitated wastewater treatment plant is bringing cleaner water to over 15,000 residents.”

“These are just a few examples from the 229 municipalities which have received assistance. And that’s not to mention the 70,000 poor Lebanese households who have received winter cash through the National Poverty Targeting Program as well as 28,000 Lebanese receiving monthly food assistance,” added the ambassador’s statement.

Source : AL Nahar