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Thursday 7th

Day two in Beirut!

Since we didn’t have any meetings this morning, we decided to make our self a bit more familiar with the surrounding areas. Just a couple of blocks from where our hostel is located lies the Armenian quarters, a real haven for people who like  to eat and drink  while watching cool people do the same.

Some of us spend a couple of hours at the beach, soaking up some much needed sun after the loong winter in Sweden. The average temperature in Beirut is around 22 degrees in the daytime, this makes us very happy! After a couple of relaxing hours we got in a taxi and went to the first meeting of the day, that being with Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch doesn’t really need an introduction, the watchdog for human rights is famous all over the world for its work. At the Beirut office we met with deputy director Nadim Hourey, who has years of experience of monitoring the situation in the region.  His presentation focused mainly on the difficulties of the region, which he sees in Lebanon as well. Lack of opportunity is something that kept coming back in his talks, as military dictators and militias wrestle for power over Lebanon’s neighboring countries.  Weak state institution makes it impossible for the rule of law to be establish, and therefore makes human rights a low priority on many actors list. Despite this, Mr. Houry believes that there is hope. Military dictators and extremist groups can’t solve the problems that they create, and because of this the rights of all individuals will inevitably rise again he reasons. Also, there is a will among the young generations to change life for the better, and to move away from old secretarian affiliations.

Our next meeting of the day was with the World Bank. The meeting was very rewarding, and we got an insight in the way the banks operates in Lebanon, currently funding a huge dam project in the southern parts of the countries .

After a very hectic day, crammed with insight and knowledge we spent the remains of the afternoon at a beach club, where we once again meet with Mouna. We experienced the Lebanese hospitality, as our host nearly drowned us in an endless supply of cookies and coffee.  The night was spent revisiting the Armenian quarters, where we had dinner and drinks.