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Volume 657: debated on Tuesday 2 April 2019

11. What recent diplomatic steps he has taken to help ensure a secure and stable Government in Lebanon. (910171)

The UK remains fully committed to helping to promote Lebanon’s security and stability. The Prime Minister conveyed that message to Prime Minister Hariri as recently as 24 February. We provide direct support to Lebanon of over $200 million a year. These funds help to secure borders, to provide the opportunity of education and to strengthen service delivery.

What specific security assistance are Her Majesty’s Government providing on the borders of Lebanon?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question, as I know he takes these matters extremely seriously. We have invested more than £60 million in Lebanese security since 2012. By 2020, we shall have trained over 11,000 soldiers in specialist and essential infantry skills and techniques for urban and rural security operations across the board. This assistance includes significant support for the land border regiments, and has helped to secure Lebanon’s border with Syria for the first time in its history.

Some 1.25 million Christians have fled Syria to go to Lebanon. Will the Minister confirm what help he has been able to give to those Christian refugees?

I know that the hon. Gentleman takes these matters extremely seriously, and the House greatly respects him for that. Many of those refugees, and some Palestinian Christians, have been in Lebanon in waves going back 20 or 30 years. Obviously, a huge amount of Department for International Development work goes on in the area. We recognise that many people have been there for quite some time and will be there for quite some time to come, and we therefore try to enhance their economic opportunities. The UK has played a leading part in trying to ensure tariff-free access to EU markets for many of those individuals.