“Keeping children alive is one question, but making sure they achieve their potential is just as crucial. At stake is not only these children‘s hopes and dreams, but also those of a society, an entire generation. It’s incredibly sad that boys and girls feel they have no opportunities. They know there is something better, but they don‘t think they can attain it. Changing that is our highest priority.” - Tanya Chapuisat, Representative, UNICEF Lebanon.
Representative of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Lebanon Tanya Chapuisat
Tanya Chapuisat began her mission in Beirut as Representative for the UNICEF Lebanon Country office in July 2015.
“I arrived in Lebanon after the initial emergency response to the Syria crisis was already in full implementation, and at a point where UNICEF had already geared up and was running one of the biggest emergency operations in the region; it was also one of UNICEF’s most extensive operations in the world.
Throughout my nearly four years here, we’ve sought to transition from acute emergency response to chronic emergency response. Right now, we’re moving into a phase where we can begin to leverage some of the positive gains that can be made from such emergencies.
To illustrate the gains we’ve made; at the beginning of the emergency, refugees’ education was provided in tents, with small classes and informal sessions. Today, these same children are integrated into a second shift in Lebanese public schools. While this delivers a more structured education, it has also been the catalyst for greater investment in the permanent infrastructure of the Lebanese education system – of benefit to every one of the nation’s children. Today, we’re also working with the Ministry of Education to integrate issues of protection and inclusion of children with disabilities into their long-term policies and curriculum.
Also, during the initial phase of the emergency response, UNICEF Lebanon relied heavily on our international NGO partners but, over recent years, we've shifted to building capabilities amongst national partners – both national NGOs and government bodies. Our next step is to work at the local level with decentralized authorities such as with municipalities and governorates.
No country in the world would have been flexible enough to allow its population to grow by a quarter without some significant impact on its society. When a country leaves part of its society behind, it’s our job to be the advocates for and protectors of the most vulnerable.
The challenge for 2019 is to find a way to continue to successfully deliver a purely acute emergency response when required, while at the same time our donors and ourselves seek to transition to a more sustainable chronic emergency response combined with essential and forward-looking development work.
We’re aiming to capitalize on the attention the emergency brought on Lebanon, and to leave behind something better for the whole country.