On Saturday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations and Transparency, Raül Romeva, travelled to Lebanon, where he visited two projects implemented by the Catalan Government through NGOs, the United Nations and the Lebanese government. This is the second official visit the Minister has undertaken to Lebanon, after leading a Catalan delegation to the country in 2016 with the objective of broadening Catalan cooperation and tackling the crisis in the Mediterranean, increasing the number of projects in Lebanon and the surrounding countries from 6 to 17.
On Sunday Romeva visited the refugee camp and medical centre in the town of Halba, the capital of the Akkar region that shares a border with Syria, where 35% of the population are refugees. The Catalan Government runs a project in the region that provides healthcare materials and access to specialist medical services for refugees. This is one of 17 projects the Government is implementing through NGOs on the ground, including Associació Catalunya-Líban, Fundació Pau i Solidaritat and Socors Popular Libanès. The Minister also visited the refugee camp in the area and met with the region’s governor and elected representatives, the Mayor of Halba and the president of the region’s union of municipalities.
The Minister assured that through the country’s cooperation projects in Lebanon, “Catalonia reaffirms its commitment to refugees”. “We want to cooperate in building the necessary response to the crisis in the Mediterranean”, he explained. “This is what Catalan society has demanded”, the Minister continued, “and through these actions we want to improve the situation of refugees fleeing from conflicts in the region, especially in Syria”. “The arrival of refugees has had a particularly heavy impact at a local level, especially regarding the management of basic services; we want to strengthen these services for the whole population”, Romeva affirmed.
In the evening the Minister met with the mayor of Tripoli and president of the Union of Municipalities, Ahmad Kamareddine, and visited the waste processing plant in the Al-Fayhaa region, which was built thanks to a Catalan cooperation project implemented through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs, in the framework of the Lebanon Host Communities Support Project (LHSP). The aim of the project is to help run municipal services that are currently overwhelmed by the increase in population, such as waste management, disposal and recycling, managing and supplying water, primary health care and health services for the population. Al Fayhaa, the region where these municipalities are located, is the Lebanese region that receives the most refugees from Syria through the Homs and Aleppo corridors.