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LAZZARINI, MERHEBI VISITS AKKAR

Minister of State for Displaced Affairs, Mouin El Moraabi, visited on Thursday the development projects financed by International Organizations in Akkar, notably Nahr al-Bared, Bnin, and up to the northern border with Syria in Wadi Khaled and al-Arida, accompanied by UN Deputy Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Philippe Lazzarini, and UNHCR Office Director in the North.

Lazzarini stressed difficulties in the region, saying that "after 7 years of crisis, the Lebanese economy has been deeply affected, unemployment raised and livelihood conditions became essential."

"We do not know when the Syrian crisis will take an end, and nothing reassures that it will end soon," he said. "The message of Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, at Brussels conference was clear in terms of changing tactics, supporting displaced people and hosting communities by creating job opportunities through developmental projects."

He added, "The current challenge is the choice between despair and hope, and it is possible to achieve our goals of investments and job creation," Lazzarini said after inspecting people's needs in the region, in terms of securing roads safety and transportation between villages and towns."

Minister Merhebi, for his part, praised Lazzarini's efforts and all concerned sides "on whom we can rely upon to mitigate the effects of the Syrian displacement crisis on Lebanon."

Merhebi said that the Lebanese government chaired by Premier Hariri was trying to implement a plan for developing the infrastructure, especially in regions witnessing massive displacements such as Akkar, Arsal, Bekaa, and Baalbek

"We seek to transform this humanitarian crisis into a rare opportunity in which we can develop the national infrastructure, especially the development of the marginalized areas of Lebanon, just as in the border area of Wadi Khaled, which has suffered from poverty and deprivation for decades," he concluded.

Source: National News Agency