Kick-Off Event of the project Swiss Support to Integrated Border Management in Lebanon

The launch of the Swiss Support to Integrated Border Management in Lebanon (Phase 2) project, funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and implemented by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), was held on Monday, March 11, 2019 at the Central Military Club in Manara – Beirut.

The event was attended by the Ambassador of Switzerland to Lebanon, Ambassador Monika Schmutz KirgAlz, Swiss Special Delegate to the Middle East, Ambassador Urs von Arb, Senior Programme Specialist for the Middle East in ICMPD, Mr Rami Bathish, representatives from the European Union Delegation to Lebanon, Embassies of some EU Member States, international and United Nations organisations, officers from the Lebanese Armed Forces, the General Directorate of the Internal Security Forces, the General Directorate of General Security, the General Directorate of Civil Defense and representatives of some Ministries concerned with the thematic areas of the project.

Speeches focused on the importance of promoting human rights-based border and migration management in Lebanon and on the role of Swiss Support to Integrated Border Management in Lebanon (Phase 2) in strengthening the capacities of Lebanese agencies and authorities responsible for all aspects related to the management of migration and of displaced and refugee populations in Lebanon.

In this regard, the Ambassador of Switzerland to Lebanon, Ambassador Monika Schmutz KirgAlz, stated that Lebanon, with more than one third of its population composed of refugees, displaced and migrants, faces an even greater challenge in this realm; add to this your country’s size, diversity, and history, and it becomes clear that proper migration management amounts to an existential necessity for Lebanon.

The Swiss Special Delegate to the Middle East, Ambassador Urs von Arb, said that with regard to the most pressing and relevant needs, we will deepen some specific thematic areas � such as for example gender and trafficking in human beings. He also confirmed that while General Security remains a main partner, we are looking forward to also cooperating with the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces and other relevant Ministries and Organisations.

As for the Senior Programme Specialist in ICMPD, Mr Rami Bathish, he considered that the debate on the refugee crisis must be carried beyond the focus on numbers of those affected by it, and repositioned on the fundamentals of sound policy (including human rights); it is here that the core objective of Switzerland’s upcoming support can and will offer a valuable and balanced view on border management in Lebanon, and set a living example in the region.

The representative of the Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, General Joseph Aoun and the head of the Border Control Committee, Brigadier General Marcel Baloukji, stated that in parallel with the tasks carried out by the army to maintain security and stability, the Lebanese Armed Forces are keen to place human rights at the top of their priorities and raise awareness among the military and civilians through consecutive courses, workshops and conferences. He also pointed out the importance of the Code of Conduct that was recently drafted and adopted by the Lebanese Armed Forces, with the support of the European Union.

The Commander of the Bekaa in the General Directorate of the Internal Security Forces, Colonel Rabih El Khoury Moujaess, praised the ongoing international cooperation and thanked ICMPD and all the countries contributing to the completion of this program, which is keen to develop the capacities of the relevant national institutions. We also highly value the positive role of Switzerland and its continuous support. He also emphasized the importance accorded by the Internal Security Forces to the respect of human rights and gender issues.

The head of the Studies, Coordination and Project Implementation Department in the General Directorate of General Security, Colonel Elie Deek, highlighted the importance of ongoing communication and cooperation with the European Union and the components supporting the implementation of projects, in order to strengthen the capacities of General Security, since enhancing capacities on border crossing points and the results of the work conducted will be beneficial to Lebanon and supporting European countries alike.

Source: National News Agency