Assisting the disabled in Lebanon

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UN-HABITAT has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union, setting out the framework under which the two organizations will collaborate to promote and develop the concept of inclusive environment for people with special needs.

The agreement concluded in Tyr, Lebanon, indicates that the two institutions will now share a common interest in making housing conditions better and providing better access to public places for everyone, including persons with special needs.

The Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union, a nonprofit organization dealing with people with physical disabilities that has been working on disability issues since 1981, was represented by Mr. Hassan Mroueh and Mrs. Sylvana Lakkis, and Ms. Dania El-Rifai, UN-HABITAT Representative in Lebanon and Alain Grimard, Senior Human Settlements Officer.

Following the July 2006 war in Lebanon, the two institutions were involved in the reconstruction process at the municipal and national level in South Lebanon, providing technical assistance and know how to families and municipalities in order to include engineering accessibility standards and norms within construction activities (in public and private spaces). In this context, a technical booklet was produced by both organizations and distributed to all concerned stakeholders.

With this MoU, both institutions agree to collaborate in the future with relevant ministries and public directorates in adopting the needed policy reforms to promote engineering accessibility in private and public buildings and places.

Meanwhile, a special ceremony was held in Southern Lebanon on 11 December 2009 to mark the closing of a two-year UN-HABITAT programme in Southern Lebanon.

Thanks to the generous contribution of the governments of the Netherlands, Cyprus and Finland, UN-HABITAT assisted Tyre, Bint Jbeil and Jabal Amel with shelter recovery after the July 2006 war.

The aim was to respond to the immediate needs for shelter recovery and reconstruction in Southern Lebanon while laying the foundation for the long-term sustainable reconstruction and development in Lebanon. The project team, working in close relationship with regional and local authorities, helped in the reconstruction of destroyed and heavily damaged dwellings. It also helped strengthen the capacities of local authorities and affected communities to plan and manage the recovery and reconstruction processes and long-term sustained development.

More than one hundred people attended to the closing ceremony, under the auspices of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform, H.E.Mohamed Fneish, and with the presence of his Excellency Mr. Kyriacos Kouros, Ambassador of Cyprus in Lebanon, Mr. Petros Attas, CyprusAid office in Nicosia, and Mrs. Flora Kurikkala, Embassy of Finland in Damascus, and Mr. Grimard.

Both the Minister of State for Administrative Reform and the local authorities express their wishes to have UN-HABITAT remain in Southern Lebanon to support long-term development needs of the cities and towns of Southern Lebanon.