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Lebanon to receive $1bn in financial aid from the EU

Lebanon EU aid European Commission
Cyprus' president Nikos Christodoulides, Lebanon's prime minister Najib Mikati and the European Commission's president Ursula von der Leyen, at the press conference in Beirut
  • Funds for cutting illegal migration
  • Cash to ‘strengthen basic services’
  • Support for Lebanese armed forces

A financial aid package for Lebanon from the EU valued at more than $1 billion was announced on Thursday by the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen. 

The money, most of which will be grants, will be made available over the next three years.

Some will go towards helping to control the flow of illegal migration into the European Union.

In a joint press conference in Beirut alongside the Lebanese prime minister, Najib Mikati, and the President of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides, von der Leyen said that the European Union wants to strengthen basic services in Lebanon, including education, social protection and health.

She also voiced support for economic, financial and banking reforms. 

Lebanon has suffered from an economic crisis since 2019 and has stalled on basic economic reforms needed to unlock a $3 billion International Monetary Fund package that has been agreed at a staff level.

The EU will also support the Lebanese armed forces, von der Leyen said, providing equipment, training and the necessary infrastructure for border management. 

Von der Leyen said that it would be “very helpful” for Lebanon to conclude a working arrangement with Frontex, the European border and coast guard agency, which supports EU member states and Schengen-associated countries in the management of the EU’s external borders and the fight against cross-border crime.

The EU relied on Lebanon’s “good cooperation” to prevent illegal migration and combat migrant smuggling, she said.

An EU spokesperson quoted in Bloomberg said that the aid proposal includes €736 million ($788 million) of grants to help Lebanon with the Syrian refugee crisis and €264 million in regular bilateral aid.

The Associated Press reported that an unspecified amount will go to Lebanese fishermen to deter loaning boats for people smuggling.

Lebanon has become a more popular departure point for people smugglers since the onset of the crisis, with both Syrians and Lebanese migrating across the Mediterranean to Cyprus, Italy, and elsewhere.

Thursday’s announcement comes after a €7.4 billion EU aid package to Egypt in March, which included a €200 million grant to help curb irregular migration. 

Last summer, the EU pledged around €1 billion to Tunisia, largely to support its efforts to crack down on people smuggling. 

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