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The Lebanese Universities and their efforts towards deprived local communities and refugees

(Rome, 18 March 2019) The Lebanese internal debate about refugees has never been an easy matter. The country is historically suffering from the presence of different “refugee” communities, most recently represented by the Syrians. When the RESCUE project started in 2016 several barriers suddenly appeared in front of the consortium: political sensitiveness of the topic, societal challenges, logistic difficulties, different views among partners on how to implement the RESCUE project idea on the field.

However, two years later the RESCUE members have been able to overcome all these difficulties and inaugurate, on March 14th 2019, the two R-SOS units respectively at the Lebanese University and Holy Spirit University of Kaslik. The Refugee Student Operational Support Units (R-SOS) are created within each project partner university to provide them a fundamental tool to structure specific services supporting the refugee students and other students from deprived communities (including local students)  in resuming their academic or training path. Thanks to the institutional commitment of the two Lebanese universities and thanks to the support of both leaderships, the main RESCUE related problems have constantly been exceeded for the benefit of the consortium activities. Not an easy task to achieve, but thanks to both Universities representatives (Prof. Asma Chamli and Zalpha Ayoubi from UL side and Prof. Hoda Nehme and Ms. Clemence Drouet on the USEK side) today the R-SOS are a tangible and concrete reality also in Lebanon after having opened  in Duhok and Zarqa.  

Additionally, another R-SOS will be opened in the forthcoming weeks by the Lebanese International University which has recently joined the partnership of the RESCUE project.  

The opening conference held at Lebanese University premises (at this link the programme) saw the participation of national and international actors that brought them to contribute during the morning session. In this sense it will be crucial for the Lebanese Universities to fully exploit the presence of international organizations in order to reach out potential beneficiaries: Refugees as well as local deprived communities. This inclusive approach will be crucial for the future exploitation and sustainability of the R-SOS. The meeting in fact saw the participation of Ms. Agatha Abi-Aad Associate Education Office of UNHCR Lebanon, Dr. Aref Alsoufi, National Erasmus Officer in Lebanon  and of several institutions such as the French Embassy, the Italian Cultural Institute as well as representatives of the EU delegation in Lebanon.

In a complex reality such as the Lebanese one, only by cooperating among different partners it is possible to achieve the goal of any action in support of local deprived communities and refugees: guarantee the access to education as human right for the benefit of local hosting communities and for the day after of these people once they will, eventually, come back home. The risk of generating a lost generation is concrete and all the efforts of local and international HEIs should be directed to solving this problem.

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