British head of mission concludes two-day visit to southern Lebanon
Dr Longden met the Mayor of Saida Mohamad Saoudi and visited two UK funded community projects benefiting the townspeople and their livelihoods. Longden saw how the rehabilitation of the Saida fish market supported local fishermen, joined by Ziad Hakawati, the municipality’s focal point on the fish market project. He also saw how installing 160 solar-powered street lights along the city’s 7 km coastline helped boost tourism and livelihoods. Since 2014, the UK has provided more than $ 105 million in support to its host community support program in Lebanon, reaching over 220 municipalities in collaboration with UNDP and the Department of Social Affairs.
In a roundtable with Palestinian men and women from refugee camps and Saida neighborhoods, participants presented their initiatives to increase recycling projects, advocate for women’s empowerment and support Palestinian communities through the representation of the civil defense. Thanks to the UK’s Conflict Security and Stability Fund (CSSF), the project has benefited the resilience of tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and facilitated social integration despite immense challenges.
In Tire, Dr Longden visited the Imam Sadr Foundation with its Managing Director Nijad Charafeddine and saw a project focused on vocational training for 18-25 year olds. He visited the previously UK Embassy-funded Papyrus Project, which employs vulnerable and refugee Lebanese women to collect, recycle and convert waste paper into eco-friendly crafts, and saw the woven rugs at hand crafted by women and vulnerable refugees.
In tribute to the life of Becky Dykes and the values she defended, an olive tree was planted in her memory in Cana by UN Women. The tree planting was part of a ceremony marking the end of a Rebecca Dyke foundation and a UN Women project training community mediators in conflict prevention. Dr Longden thanked the women for their touching tribute to an excellent colleague and humanitarian.
The visit to South Lebanon was an opportunity to highlight the impact of climate change on our daily life and the importance of protecting fragile ecosystems. The British delegation was given a guided tour of the Tire Coast Nature Reserve by Dr Nahed Msayleb, head of the NGO Tire Natural Reserve, and heard about its unique biodiversity providing a safe haven for wildlife and flora to flourish.
On the second day of his visit, Dr Longden met at the Social Development Center (SDC) in Bint Jbeil with women and girls from diverse backgrounds who found a safe space to learn and acquire skills, receive psychosocial support. and an integrated gender-based violence program for young people. Activities. The secure space at the SDC is part of the UK’s No Lost Generation initiative and provides services to over 1,100 beneficiaries each year. It is one of the 12 secure spaces set up in the SDCs in Lebanon managed by the Ministry of Social Affairs in collaboration with UNICEF Lebanon and local NGOs. With the No Lost Generation initiative (£ 92million – 2016-2022), the UK has helped over 134,000 boys and girls access child protection, gender-based violence and psychosocial support services to prevent and respond to violence.
At Kfarhatta Public Secondary School, part of the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms program, Dr Longden saw four interactive projects by 48 students and their teachers focusing on mental health and well-being, education for media, climate change, Rebuilding Greener and Embracing Diversity. The Connected Classroom program engages over 100 schools in Lebanon, reaching over 100,000 boys and girls of all ages.
Dr Longden also met with MP Bahia Hariri and visited Beaufort Castle.
At the end of his visit, Dr Martin Longden said of Bint Jbeil:
It has been great to escape the Beirut bubble and come to meet people and communities here. And my schedule has been very varied, busy, which reflects the very special agenda underpinning the UK-Lebanon relationship.
I am really proud to see the transformational impact of British aid programs here in southern Lebanon. Thus, from education and protection programs for women and girls here in Bint Jbeil to support for Lebanese livelihoods in Saida and assistance to refugees in Tire. These programs are making a real difference.
These are really difficult times for Lebanon. And while the UK will always do what it can to support the people of this country, we cannot make a difference without a serious and credible Lebanese government, which can be a partner in undertaking the reforms necessary to truly overthrow the situation. How long must the people suffer before Lebanese politicians come together and act collectively to face this crisis?
But on a positive note, I see here in southern Lebanon as elsewhere in the country people with real passion, talent and a commitment to really make a positive difference in people’s lives. And for me these are the real leaders of Lebanon, the ones who get along and do what they can to make this country a better place and the UK is really proud to stand by your side and support you. in this domain. Thank you.