Measured in relation to its own population, no other country in the world helps as many refugees as Lebanon. This small country has provided refuge for over 1.5 million people fleeing war and terror in Syria. Foreign Minister Steinmeier travelled to Beirut on Thursday (1 December) to demonstrate that Germany is a solid partner at Lebanon’s side. During his visit, Steinmeier will also be able to see for himself the situation of the people from Syria.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier on the way to Lebanon (01 December 2016)© picture-alliance.de
“Lebanon’s attitude to the many people being forced to flee from the civil war in Syria deserves tremendous respect,” Foreign Minister Steinmeier said before taking off for Beirut. The 4.8 million Lebanese have to date taken in around 1.5 million refugees from Syria. “The Lebanese people are generously sharing their lives with their Syrian neighbours who have fled to Lebanon to escape war and violence,” Steinmeier went on. The country is facing a mammoth task in caring for these people. 70 percent of the refugees are living below the poverty line, and only half of the children can go to school.
Germany is the biggest donor
Germany has therefore been making intensive efforts to support Lebanon for years. As the world’s largest donor to the country, Germany has made available a total of 689 million euros since 2012. German assistance focuses on providing food, education, water and healthcare. To this end, Germany cooperates closely with the United Nations aid programmes. Germany will step up its efforts in future, particularly in the field of education. Only with education and training can the hundreds of thousands of refugee children and young people look with hope to the future.
Education for refugee children
During his trip, Foreign Minister Steinmeier will first visit a Syrian refugee settlement. Then he will go to a public school supported by Germany and UNICEF. Together with Lebanese Education Minister Elias Bou Saab, Steinmeier will hear about how Lebanese and Syrian children learn together in the school. Foreign Minister Steinmeier will also have talks with representatives of the numerous United Nations aid organisations active in the region.
Germany and Lebanon are linked by much more than just their engagement for the refugees from Syria. Steinmeier will discuss the important partnership between Germany and Lebanon with the new Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. “We have every interest in Lebanon remaining an anchor of stability in this unsettled region,” said Steinmeier. For two and a half years the country was in domestic crisis and the presidency was vacant. Michel Aoun was elected President a month ago. So there is now once again a foundation from which to build a stable future for the country. “I hope that a new Government can be formed soon,” Steinmeier said.
Source: Federal Foreign Office