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European Union announces $1 billion for Lebanon: Leyen

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced during her visit to Beirut that the European Union has extended a financial package of 1 billion euros ($1.07 billion) to Lebanon to aid its struggling economy and support its security forces.

Von der Leyen stated that the package aims to strengthen essential services such as healthcare and education.

However, she emphasized the importance of Lebanon implementing economic, financial, and banking reforms to rejuvenate the business environment and banking sector.

Accompanied by Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, Von der Leyen mentioned that the assistance to the Lebanese army and security agencies will focus on providing training, equipment, and infrastructure to enhance border management.

Lebanon’s economy has been deteriorating since 2019 due to years of overspending and corruption within the ruling elite, hindering financial reforms necessary to access a $3 billion aid package from the International Monetary Fund. Consequently, most Lebanese citizens have been unable to access their bank savings, the local currency has depreciated, and public institutions have struggled to operate effectively.

Concurrently, Lebanon has witnessed an increase in migrant boats departing for Europe, with Cyprus and Italy becoming primary destinations, according to researchers. These boats carry both Syrian and Lebanese nationals.

Both Von der Leyen and Christodoulides expressed hope that Lebanon would establish a “working arrangement” with Frontex, the EU’s border agency.

Lebanon has provided refuge to hundreds of thousands of Syrians since the conflict began in 2011. Prime Minister Mikati and other officials have suggested that most of Syria is now safe for them to return, citing the strain on Lebanon’s economy. However, the United Nations maintains that Syria remains too dangerous for displaced nationals to return, with reports of arrests and conscription upon forced return by Lebanese authorities.

Christodoulides highlighted the urgent need to address the prolonged presence of Syrians in Lebanon, stating that the current situation is unsustainable for Lebanon, Cyprus, and the European Union.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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