Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne Richard Visits Lebanon

Today Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Anne C. Richard concluded a trip to Beirut. During the visit, she met with Prime Minister Tammam Salam, Minister of Education Elias Bou Saab, United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag, and a range of other representatives from UN agencies, international and non-governmental organizations, host communities, and refugees themselves.

During her meetings, Assistant Secretary Richard reaffirmed U.S. appreciation for Lebanon hosting nearly1.2 million Syrian refugees, and underscored U.S. commitment to helping the country address the strains of this effort upon Lebanon’s economy, social service providers, and infrastructure.

She noted that $118 million of the more than $500 million in funding the United States recently announced in Kuwait will go to assist refugees and host communities in Lebanon. Since this crisis started in January 2011, the U.S. Government has provided nearly $3.7 billion in humanitarian assistance to those affected by the Syria crisis, and nearly $800 million of that is directed toward vulnerable populations in Lebanon.

While visiting Sed El Boucherieh School for Girls, Assistant Secretary Richard, accompanied by Minister of Education Elias Bou Saab, said “this funding is not just about refugees, it is about everyone who is affected by this crisis…It is about both refugee and Lebanese children who need schools, teachers, and supplies; it is about Lebanese and Syrian mothers who need maternal health care; it is about families who need to eat…The U.S. government very much supports, and is grateful for, the work of the Lebanese government and Lebanese society to take in so many refugees from Syria. We feel very strongly that Lebanon is doing the right thing, that your generosity should be rewarded, and that we are obligated to help. We want not just to provide relief assistance; we want to make sure that Lebanese families are not disadvantaged from having taken in refugees. We want to make sure that Lebanese children are continually going to school the way they should, and that Syrian children are not idle, but instead are doing what children everywhere should be doing, which is going to school.”

In her meetings, Assistant Secretary Richard stressed the United States will remain committed to assisting those effected by this terrible war. She also thanked the Government of Lebanon for expanding education opportunities for refugees, which the United States is helping to support, and commended the Government of Lebanon for ensuring that entry for humanitarian exceptions continue. Assistant Secretary Richard looks forward to continue working with the Government of Lebanon to ameliorate the challenges posed by the refugee presence.