Friday, April 27, 2018

The last of this year’s international donors conferences that include Lebanon was held April 24-25 in Brussels. "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region" was hosted by the European Union and co-chaired by the United Nations. There were 86 delegations from 57 States, 10 regional organizations and International Financial Institutions (IFIs) as well as 19 UN agencies. More than 250 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) participated, with 164, including 15 from Syria and 72 from Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, meeting on the first day to discuss refugee populations in and outside Syria.

While donors pledged $4.4 billion in aid for refugees in Syria and the refugee host countries, the amount falls short of what the United Nations says is needed to provide humanitarian assistance in 2018, acco...

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Lebanon Moves to Firm up Refugee Support from International Donors. Following up on the well-received CEDRE Donors Conference in Paris, the Hariri government has moved on to Brussels where a two-day meeting of donors is being held on how to best deal with the continuing crises affecting  Syrian refugees in their host countries. With the recent expulsion of some hundreds of refugees from towns close to the Syrian border, refugee rights monitors are seeking assurances from Lebanese officials that the precarious balancing act between refugees and host communities will not be further exacerbated.

According to Naharnet, “The [Lebanese] delegation will hold meetings with government ministers and highlight the situation of displaced people in countries neighboring Syria, seeking to increase intern...

Thursday, April 19, 2018

By many accounts, Tripoli was once on par with Beirut as a leader in commercial and economic activities. Dating back at least to the 14th century BCE, it has many historical and cultural sites, including the Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles, the largest Crusader fortress in Lebanon and the  second largest amount of Mamluk architectural heritage on earth (behind Cairo).

It is now seeking to recapture its economic prominence. Several sources make note that “A Tripoli development plan called ‘Tripoli Vision 2020’ has been formulated and supported by a number of advisory councils including influential key government officials and prominent businessmen in the city. The goal of the project is to provide a comprehensive framework consisting of promoting investment, training, re-skilling, talent...

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Paris IV conference brought together more than 40 countries and institutions to address the need for funding infrastructure projects in Lebanon. The result, as reported in numerous media accounts, is a commitment to some $11 billion in support, mainly in the form of soft loans and concessionary financing for more than 250 projects presented by the government of Lebanon. While some may see this as a ringing endorsement of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s efforts to draw attention to the needs to stabilize Lebanon’s economy, whether or not Lebanon is up to the task of managing the commitments has yet to be determined. However, the financing will not come about without hard lessons ahead for Lebanon’s patronage and political wasta system.

According to Chris Jarvis, IMF head of Mission in Leban...

Monday, April 2, 2018

In the past few years, it has been instructive to see the achievements of Fair Trade Lebanon (FTL), an organization dedicated to empowering rural communities and women’s organizations through economic development. At a time when a great deal of attention is focused on megaprojects to advance Lebanon’s economy, FTL works at the local level to change how people build their futures. Given the well-known attraction of Lebanese food products both at home and abroad, FTL came up with the idea of encouraging local cooperatives and farmers to produce food items for local consumption and export with a fair trade certification. Initially directed at the overseas Lebanese, FTL now exports to over a dozen markets.

I caught up with Philippe Adaime, FTL’s CEO on a recent trip to Washington, DC and asked...

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