Foreign Secretary reaffirms UK commitment to supporting de-escalation efforts and ongoing support for the Lebanese Armed Forces.
News Release, British Embassy Beirut, 03 February 2024: David Cameron reaffirms UK commitment to supporting de-escalation efforts in Lebanon, & ongoing support to the Lebanese Armed Forces reaching £100m since 2009.
UK Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, ended a one-day visit to Lebanon, Thursday 1 February. This was his first official visit to the country as Foreign Secretary, following his previous visit as Prime Minister in September 2015 and his fourth visit to the Middle East as Foreign Secretary.
David Cameron, accompanied by Lord Ahmad, Minister of State for the Middle East, met with Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander General Joseph Aoun, and Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, Lieutenant General Aroldo Lázaro Sáenz. In his meetings, David Cameron raised his concerns on the rising tensions along Lebanon’s boundary with Israel and underlined the UK’s commitment to support the de-escalation of violence.
During a visit to the Rayak military airbase in the Bekaa, David Cameron saw first-hand how the UK and Lebanon are working closely together on providing training for the four Land Border Regiments. Cameron reaffirmed the longstanding and proud partnership with the Lebanese Army. The Foreign Secretary announced UK support for the LAF, which has now surpassed £100 million since 2009. To date, the UK has supported the construction of 78 border towers, the provision of 344 Land Rovers, 3450 sets of PPE to soldiers deployed on border operations, 100 Land Rover armoured patrol vehicles trained and mentored over 26,500 LAF personnel in border operations and internal security.
The Foreign Secretary also announced £7.35 million of new UK aid funding to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Lebanon Humanitarian Fund, which supports UN agencies and NGOs to provide food, water, shelter and other basic support to vulnerable communities across Lebanon. And a £2.6m contribution to support the education of vulnerable children through a network of community centres for out of school children as part of UNICEF and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education’s (MEHE) Transition and Resilience Education Fund (TREF).
The visit builds on the Foreign Secretary’s regional visits last week and this week. He continues to push for an immediate pause to get aid in and hostages out, and building towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.
Foreign Secretary David Cameron said: “The UK is working to help preserve stability in Lebanon and prevent a damaging regional escalation.
“We’re supporting the Lebanon Armed Forces – we’ve trained over 26,500 Lebanese soldiers and are giving further humanitarian aid to help the most vulnerable.
“Thank you PM Najib Mikati and Speaker Berri.”
British Ambassador to Lebanon Hamish Cowell said: “Yesterday’s visit by Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron and Minister for the Middle East Lord Ahmad reaffirms the UK’s long-standing support and commitment to Lebanon’s stability and security.
“The situation across the Blue Line is fragile and an escalation in violence is not in anyone’s interests. In his meetings, the Foreign Secretary stressed the need for a cessation of hostilities and implementation of UNSCR 1701. This is critical if we are to see a long-term solution for peace.
“We are proud of our steadfast support to the Lebanese Armed Forces, which will continue to strengthen their ability to manage and respond to security challenges. Our support to the most vulnerable in Lebanon also continues.”