"The UK no longer advises against travel to Baalbek, and I'm delighted to have explored this remarkable city myself today, hearing about life here, seeing our current support and talking about more," British Ambassador to Lebanon, Chris Rampling said today.
In a press release by the British Embassy in Beirut, it said: "As part of the UK's ongoing support to Lebanese communities, UK Ambassador to Lebanon Chris Rampling visited the city of Baalbek to hear from its residents and officials about their challenges and opportunities.
He also visited UK funded projects under the Lebanon Host Communities Support Programme, a partnership between the Ministry of Social Affairs and the United Nations Development Programme.
Ambassador Rampling toured the city's historical ruins accompanied by the Governor of the Bekaa, Bachir Khodr, MP Antoine Habche, heads of municipalities and mayors from Baalbek-Hermel region.
At the Social Development Centre (SDC), the Ambassador heard how SDC is providing medical assistance for both Lebanese citizens and displaced Syrians living in Baalbek. This is one of several projects funded between 2014-2018 benefiting thousands of residents. Other examples include the construction of a wastewater network, support to the Qalaa Agrofood Cooperative, and rehabilitation of the local Old Souq where half of the beneficiaries are women."
After the visit, Ambassador Rampling said: "I am pleased to return to the Bekaa and visit the City of The Sun - in December, the UK lifted advice against travel to Baalbek, and I am sure British citizens will visit this spectacular city and learn about its history.
I want to thank the Governor of the Bekaa Bachir Khodr and city officials for the warm welcome. We recognise the huge challenges facing many local business and municipalities. I am encouraged that since 2014, UKAid's contribution to the Baalbek Hermel region has been over $3.5 million, reaching over 125,000 beneficiaries, half of which are women. Communities here are doing the best they can to respond to this unprecedented regional crisis."
Ambassador Rampling added: "I was pleased to see how the renovated Social Development Centre (SDC) is able to offer many medical services including a dentistry clinic, support to pregnant women and their newborn babies, provide food coupons for the needy, and free entrance to vocational training amongst many other activities.
And I salute the generosity and hospitality of the Lebanese population and of the local municipalities given the terrible crisis in Syria - particularly in the Bekaa region that is hosting the highest number of refugees in Lebanon."
Press release concluded: "Through the LHSP programme, the UK is supporting over 1 in 5 municipalities by providing financial support of $64.2m to help improve the quality and delivery of basic services, at the local level, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and UNDP."
Source: National News Agency