Beirut, 28 March 2017 – The European Commissioner for the European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, inaugurated today the start of refurbishment works of the Border Management Training Centre at Rayak Airbase in the Bekaa. The work is funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) as part of the technical assistance project Enhanced Capability for Integrated Border Management in Lebanon (IBM Lebanon). Refurbishment works will be completed by September 2017.

The ceremony included the participation of the Head of the European Union Delegation to Lebanon  Ambassador to Lebanon, Christina Lassen, a delegation from ICMPD including ICMPD’s Director for Migration Dialogues and Cooperation, Martijn Pluim, senior officers from the project’s five beneficiary agencies (Lebanese Armed Forces – LAF; Internal Security Forces – ISF; Directorate General of the General Security – DGSG; Lebanese Custom Administration – LCA and the Directorate General of the Lebanese Civil Defense – LCD), representatives of the Diplomatic Corps in Lebanon, amongst other relevant stakeholders to ICMPD, particularly in the IBM Lebanon project.

The 3-floor training centre is spread across 2400 square metres, and will be able to accommodate at least 200 trainees at any one time. It will significantly improve access to training facilities of suitable quality. Training to be conducted in the new centre will be for the LAF and other beneficiaries (DGSD; ISF; LCA and CD) facilitating the exchange of experience between them, strengthening the ‘team concept’ and ensuring standardization of training. 

Commissioner Hahn reaffirmed in his speech the EU’s continuous commitment to supporting Lebanon and noted that border management has moved up all national and international agendas in recent years, emphasising that “the world wide threat of terrorism is on all our minds, but we also want to handle, in the best way possible, the legal obligation to ensure that people fleeing war can be hosted in safer places. These are joint challenges for Europe and Lebanon.” 

He also noted that effective border management requires strong cooperation and collaboration between states and inter agencies. “We are pleased to see the culture of cooperation and collaboration put in practice in this project.” Commissioner Hahn stressed that this is the reason why the EU commission has invested 13.5 million Euros in the IBM Lebanon project implemented by ICMPD.

From his side Mr. Pluim noted in his speech that the presence of EU Commissioner Hahn reaffirms the clear commitment of the EU to Lebanon’s pursuit of security, stability and long term prosperity through a secure border. He also expressed appreciation to LAF for its “dedication and innovative approach in making this step possible; LAF has designated its own personnel to carry out the refurbishment work, while EUR 300.000 in EU funds have been designated through IBM Lebanon to purchase the needed material.” Mr. Pluim concluded by reaffirming ICMPD’s belief that advanced trainings (and training of trainers) provide the project’s beneficiaries with the needed capacities to realise their full potential as professional agencies, tasked with the key responsibility to protect Lebanon and promote legal mobility and trade.

The LAF commander speech delivered by a high ranking representative noted that the inauguration of the refurbishment works of the training centre “is a major achievement in the ongoing cooperation between LAF and EU, and with the follow up from ICMPD, is considered a major step in the read to success of IBM Lebanon project, as well as in our contusions efforts to combat terrorism and preserve the stability of Lebanon in this stage that is full of danger and regional challenges.”

Following the opening remarks and speeches, a guided tour of the centre was organized for all attendees, and was concluded with Commissioner Hahn’s planting of an olive tree in commemoration of the commencement of refurbishment works.

Integrated Border Management in Lebanon (IBM Lebanon), funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the International Centre for Migration Policy development (ICMPD) represents six years of technical assistance project support to Lebanon, totalling approximately EUR 14 million. IBM Lebanon works with five Lebanese beneficiary security agencies to "establish effective, efficient and coordinated border management." Phase 1 Developing National Capability for IBM in Lebanon started in October 2012 and ended in December 2015. Phase 2 Enhanced Capability for IBM in Lebanon began in January 2016 and will conclude in December 2018.