Ceremony of Achievements and Experiences of Local Communities in Beirut and Saida
Speech of Mr. Luca Renda
UNDP Lebanon Country Director
Within the framework of UNDP and UNHABITAT projects
“Addressing Urban Hot Spots in Lebanon” and “Improving Living Conditions in Palestinian Gatherings in Lebanon”
Ceremony of Achievements and Experiences of
Local Communities in Beirut and Saida
Makassed University of Beirut, Faculty of Public Health
Dr. Mustafa Khalidi Hall, Tariq Al Jdidi, Beirut
Friday 11th April 2014
Representatives of our host today the Makassed Philanthropic Islamic Association of Beirut,
Representatives of the Beirut Municipality,
Partners and Community representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are gathered here today to recognize the achievements of the local communities that we have had the honor to engage with in Beirut and Saida under the framework of the UNDP and UN-HABITAT partnership.
On this occasion, it is important to highlight the comprehensive approach that we together as UN agencies and local partners adopted to achieving better results for the communities we serve. Our approach to building peace and development has always relied on bringing people closer together and supporting them to achieve what they believe is best for them. Through the two projects celebrated today, we strived to provide the platform that allowed communities to engage in a constructive dialogue but also implemented tangible interventions that met the common needs identified locally.
UNDP’s engagement with the communities, the local and national authorities, and non-governmental organizations under the framework of these two projects is an ongoing one and I am happy to see how these partnerships have yielded positive results.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the UNDP, it is my pleasure to be here today to celebrate our achievements and listen to the vibrant testimonies of beneficiaries, represented here by Ms. Ghazaleh Al Khattab from the Adjacent Areas to the Ain el Helwe camp and Mr. Imad Al Fata from Beirut Tariq Al Jdidi.
I believe our work through the development of strategies for safer neighborhoods and solid physical infrastructure interventions in the communities of Beirut- Mazraa, Tariq el Jdidi, Sabra and Burj Abi haidar area, as well as in the 8 adjacent areas to the Ain el Helwe camp has contributed to reducing tensions and further strengthened the resilience of these communities.
Our work with the Lebanese Army through the support to its Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) section is also of high significance. This partnership was marked by 1) the endorsement of a national strategy by the Army commander, 2) the support to the capacity building in CIMIC skills for Army officers and personnel, 3) the inauguration of the CIMIC section central offices and finally the support to the Army’s pilot community outreach interventions in the same neighborhoods we are gathered in today.
In this context, I would like to highlight the efforts of UN partner agencies that have worked hard to achieve these results. In particular, I would like to thank the colleagues of UN-HABITAT, UNIFIL, UNSCOL, and the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights for their commitment and technical support. Special thanks go to the UN Peace Building Fund for making this project possible and to our national partner the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee that endorsed our vision and took it to the national level.
I would also like to thank the Government of Germany and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation who thanks to their generous funding, we succeeded last year to implement 54 infrastructure projects in Palestinian Gatherings across Lebanon, and to rehabilitate and equip 317 shelters of Palestinian families from Syria seeking refuge in these Gatherings.
This year, additional funding from the Government of Japan and the US Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration will allow us to continue and expand our interventions for more families in need of shelter, WASH, and address other urgent needs in Palestinian Gatherings. We believe that these initiatives will not only restore the right of Palestinian Gatherings to healthy environments, but will also mitigate social tensions between local communities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over the past few years, Lebanese communities have come under enormous pressures as a result of the Syrian crisis and the large influx of refugees. These pressures have often been translated into increased tensions within communities. I believe that we as representatives of the international community are called upon to provide exceptional support to Lebanon and the Lebanese people in these challenging times. UNDP is committed to continue working and supporting host communities in order to alleviate pressures.
I would like to sincerely thank the Ministry of Defense, the Lebanese Army, The Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee, the Municipalities of Beirut, Darb el Sim and Mieh Mieh, the Makassed Association, the Popular Aid for Relief and Development for their collaboration and continuous support to the project teams.
I wish to also recognize and applaud the outstanding work and commitment of the locally established reference groups of Youth, Women and Key actors who, over a short period of time, already exhibited exceptional levels of dedication and leadership.