The Countess of Wessex has made the first official Royal visit to Lebanon.
On day one of the visit, The Countess visited an informal tented settlement in the Bekaa Valley at the start of her visit to Lebanon and met a Syrian family receiving UK funded assistance via the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP).
The Countess found out more about refugees in the settlement and how they are supported by UK and Lebanese efforts. Her Royal Highness met mum Asmaa and her children - a Syrian family receiving UK funded assistance via the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP).
The Countess then joined Reverend Nadim Nassar, Founder of the Awareness Foundation and the Foundation’s ‘Ambassadors for Peace’ in Beirut.
At a meeting Her Royal Highness heard about how Syrian young people are building bridges of respect and understanding in their diverse communities. Her Royal Highness is Patron of the charity which empowers and encourages people of faith to be peacemakers in the wider community.
In the afternoon, The Countess thanked British Embassy staff based in Beirut for their service in the region and then joined a meeting in her commitment to champion the UK’s work on #WomenPeaceSecurity and the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative.
The Countess joined Syrian women and NGOs who shared their insights and discussed how to tackle the barriers to involving women in peace processes, ensuring women’s voices are heard and promoting their vital role in decision-making. Find out more about this work here.
On day two of the visit, The Countess visited a Caritas shelter for victims of sexual and gender-based violence and a shelter which supports refugee women, young people and children and offers temporary housing, medical assistance, counselling and legal assistance.
Caritas is an international Catholic charity which offers pastoral care including humanitarian support and protection for individuals in need.
The Countess spent time speaking with survivors who shared their personal stories and spoke about how they are benefiting from the charity’s support.
At the end of the visit The Countess of Wessex attended an annual celebration in honour of The Queen’s birthday.
The event, hosted by The British Embassy, took place at the National Library in Beirut and The Countess viewed an art exhibition and saw items of archaeological importance whilst there.
The Queen sent a message which The Countess of Wessex read out:
The United Kingdom recognises Lebanon as a symbol of diversity, tolerance and resilience, and I hope that the strong bond of friendship between our two countries will continue for many years.
“I am delighted that my daughter-in-law is with you this evening,” Her Majesty The Queen.
“The United Kingdom recognises Lebanon as a symbol of diversity, tolerance and resilience, and I hope that the strong bond of friendship between our two countries will continue for many years.
“Prince Philip and I send our warmest good wishes to the people of Lebanon, and to all those attending this evening’s reception.”
The Countess also gave a speech which you can read in full here.
It has been a privilege to experience the famous Lebanese hospitality and culture for the first time, and I am very pleased to join you tonight to celebrate the strong and growing partnership between our two nations.
The Countess of Wessex
Her Royal Highness also talked about the importance of highlighting the issue of Women, Peace and Security, and sexual and gender-based violence.
Earlier that day, Her Royal Highness also joined a meeting with people from The Lebanon Host Communities Support Programme. This is a project in Baissour which supports vulnerable Lebanese communities hosting Syrian refugees in job creation, local services and peace-building.
During the visit Her Royal Highness met the President of Lebanon, General Michel Aoun, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Mr Saad Hariri and afterwards the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Mr Nabih Berri.
Find out more about The Countess here.