At the end of November, the Government of Catalonia, the Barcelona City Council, the Province of Barcelona, the Barcelona Metropolitan Area and the Catalan Fund for Cooperation Development have signed an agreement to jointly address the on-going refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. The first activity under the agreement will consist of a contribution of €730,000 to the United Nations Program for Development’s (UNDP) office in Lebanon.
After the signature of the landmark agreement, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations & Transparency of the Catalan Government, Raül Romeva, declared that “this is the first time that Catalan public administrations will be acting jointly and in full coordination” in the development cooperation sector. He said that the agreement will facilitate inter-administration coordination so that Catalonia’s contribution can make a difference to improve the dire situation faced by refugees in Lebanon and the neighbouring countries, especially with hundreds of thousands coming from Syria.
A joint effort: Catalonia-UN-Lebanon
The agreement sets up the framework under which the Catalan public administrations will work together to give a common response to the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean. It will feature support to an on-going project by UNDP, known as Lebanon Host Communities Support Project, which has also been backed by the governments of Italy, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom and the United States, in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs of Lebanon.
The first activities will be centred on the Al Fayhaa Union of Municipalities (North Lebanon), one of the regions that host a greater number of refugees. They will be aimed at solving some of the municipalities’ major challenges regarding the provision of services such as waste management and recycling.
Catalonia’s financial contribution for this project amounts to €730 000 euro, distributed between 2016 and 2017. Aside from the economic aid, the agreement may put in place technical assistance in sectors in which Catalonia has a strong expertise, such as water supply and management and primary health care. The project will also promote knowledge and expertise transfer as well as the exchange of experiences among Catalan, Lebanese and international stakeholders involved in the project.
This is widely considered as being the first instance in which five of the main Catalan public administrations act jointly and in a coordinated manner in the international cooperation sector. It follows up the clear demand of Catalan citizens for their representatives to act in response to the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean region.