The Head of the Middle East Department Visits Lebanon

Lebanon is currently suffering a period of upheaval: Since October 17th, a nationwide protest movement has been rising which advocates for a new political system, the disempowerment of the current political elites and the abolition of the system of proportional representation. This was triggered by the serious and increasingly severe economic crisis in the country, which ranks fourth in the world in terms of national debt.

In this situation, KAAD was particularly concerned to express solidarity with its local partners, alumni and scholars and to carry out the long – albeit different – planned journey to Lebanon. Consequently, Dr Nora Kalbarczyk, Head of the Middle East Department, travelled to Beirut from November, 29th to December, 3rd.

Through its Sur-Place and Third-Country Scholarship Programs in Lebanon, KAAD is currently supporting 31 scholars, 13 of whom are Lebanese, 17 Syrian and 1 Iraqi.
Among other things, the journey’s program included conversations with the Lebanese partners of KAAD who have significantly contributed and continue to contribute to the establishment and implementation of the Third-Country Scholarship Program which has been in existence since 2015 and which promotes Master studies by Syrian, Iraqi and Lebanese scholars in equal measure.  The conversations with the partners, the current scholars and alumni of the DLS/SP programs as well as alumni of the Scholarship Program S1 (Germany) revealed a diverse spectrum of the current situation.

Apart from the conversations, a meeting of the current KAAD scholars at the Maronite Notre Dame University in Louaize was part of the journey. Since March 2019, a Memorandum of Understanding has been in place with this university that has strengthened the cooperation of the two institutions and also includes a reduction in tuition fees of our KAAD scholars.

The recently released publication “Religion, Transformation, Development: Perspectives on Interreligious Dialogue in the Middle East” was brought as souvenir for KAAD’s partner in Lebanon for whose promotion the motivation of the Lebanese network was a determining factor.

It can be concluded from the trip that the network of KAAD in Lebanon is very vivid and active. However, at the same time, Lebanon is – more than ever before- in need of our prayers, our continuing support and assistance of the international community in this difficult situation. Thus, it could hardly be more fitting that Lebanon is the country of focus of this year’s carol singers which draws attention to the country’s special situation on a broad basis. We are very pleased that one of our scholars, namely Maria Hitti, is presented in the carol singers’ video (Min. 18.59ff, https://www.sternsinger.de/sternsingen/sternsinger-material/sternsinger-filme/#c5747).