British Ambassador to Lebanon Chris Rampling visited the town of Arsal in the Bekaa and neighbouring areas for the first time, to see first-hand how the communities living near the border are benefiting from the UK's security and development partnership with Lebanon.
In a press release by the British Embassy un Beirut, it said: "Ambassador Rampling met the Mayor of ArsalBassel Al Houjeiry with members of the Municipal Council, and heard about the needs of the town, and how the UK funded flood-control system is helping residents to manage water damages to homes, crops and businesses for the first time. The UK is working with the Ministry of Social Affairs and UNDP through the Lebanese Host Communities Support Programme (LHSP), to deliver projects for the host community in Arsal, following the end of the Lebanese Army's Fajr el Jouroud operation last summer."
Release added: "After his meetings, Ambassador Rampling visited the Second Land Border Regiment in RasBaalbeck and the 9th Brigade of the Lebanese Army, who are overseeing the border with Syria, including the rough terrain in Arsal. It was an opportunity to hear from the LAF how the success of Fajr el Jouroud operation last year enabled the Army move its border posts forward onto reclaimed territory, putting the Lebanese flag back on the farthest reaches of Lebanese territory, thanks to British support and funding."
Release said: "The visit was also an opportunity to see the newly refurbished office of the Lebanon Mine Action Centre (LMAC), the section of the Lebanese Army that execute and coordinate the Lebanese National Mine Action Programme. This is one component of a Pound 194,000 UK funded project through UNDP and Mine Action Group (MAG) to help Lebanon better coordinate its clearance response to contaminated land, and provide Mine Risk Education to local residents. Landmines continue to pose a daily threat to the people of Lebanon, blocking access to farmland, which is essential to people's livelihoods. UK support to demining has reached over Pound 2 million across Lebanon, including in South Lebanon and border areas in the North East."
After his visit, Ambassador Rampling said: "It gives me great pleasure to be visiting the town Arsal for the first time since arriving in Lebanon three months ago. This has been a great opportunity to see how the UK can support the Lebanese state to reinforce security, deliver economic opportunities, and alleviate humanitarian suffering.
While here, I met senior officers from the Second Land Border Regiment, who played an important role in repelling terrorist acts against Lebanon. The UK is delighted that the Lebanese Army has now control of its border with Syria for the first time - this is work that we will continue to support.
It was also important to hear directly from the Mayor of Arsal about the challenges facing the communities here, and how the UK can support further. Flooding had plagued the city and its citizens for many years, destroying homes, businesses and crops. But I am really pleased that, for the first time in the town's history, there has been no flooding this year - this is in part thanks to the 3482 meter long storm water drainage canal provided by the UK.
Another important aspect of my visit was visiting the newly refurbished and equipped offices of Lebanon Mine Action Centre (LMAC). The UK is working closely with the Lebanese army, UNDP and Mine Action Group (MAG), to prioritise mine clearance efforts in areas along the border with Syria. Our contribution of over Pound 2 million supports clearance of many kilometres of Cluster Munitions in the South, Mount Lebanon, and the Bekaa valley.
This, and our other support, will continue and develop further."
Source: National News Agency