Today, the Government of Catalonia, together with the Catalan Fund for Development Cooperation, the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona and the Barcelona City and Provincial Councils have signed an agreement to act on the humanitarian crisis affecting the Middle East through the UN Development Programme in Lebanon and 15 other NGOs working in the territory.
At the signing of the document, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations and Transparency, Raül Romeva, affirmed that with this agreement Catalonia is “taking a step forward as a country”, as this is the first time the five main institutions involved in development aid are taking joint action in a coordinated manner.
“We want to contribute to the world and offer solutions. This crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean is a global challenge”, the Minister explained, “We are not indifferent and will continue to work together and give a much needed response by joining our efforts with the United Nations, Lebanese local communities and the Catalan entities working in the territory”.
Raül Romeva concluded his speech by highlighting the importance of the agreement in coordinating Catalonia’s foreign action in Lebanon and contributing, “more efficiently, to an improvement of the situation faced by many refugees fleeing from war zones, such as Syria”.
The First Deputy Mayor of Barcelona, Gerardo Pisarello, also underlined the importance of the accord and said that the Catalan institutions “have the ethical duty to act”. “Europe has a responsibility in the current crisis. The least we can do is to support institutions that are helping out”, he added.
Furthermore, a deputy of the Barcelona Provincial Council, Jaume Ciurana, noted that “today's agreement is Catalonia’s modest and humble contribution so that dialogue with Syria is made easier”.
The agreement for Catalan cooperation includes two areas of joint action. The first, through the United Nations Development Programme in Lebanon and in collaboration with the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs, will be carried out across the Al Fayhaa Union of Municipalities (Tripoli, Mina and Baddaw), where most refugees are seeking asylum. The intended actions are expected to help over 800,000 civilians by improving water supply and management, waste management and primary health care services.
Catalonia’s contribution to the project will be twofold. Firstly, with a monetary contribution of €730,000 and, secondly, by providing technical knowledge, expertise and best practices exchanges with the Catalan actors involved. The project, entitled Lebanon Host Communities Support Project, includes the participation of other countries such as Italy, Japan, Germany, Holland, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The other area of action involves a contribution of €830,000 towards the implementation of various healthcare and waste management projects which will be carried out through 15 NGOs working on the ground in Lebanon.