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- Canada-Lebanon fact sheet
Canada and Lebanon have strong ties. The Lebanese community in Canada includes between 200,000 and 400,000 people and an estimated 40,000-75,000 Canadians live in Lebanon. The relationship is strengthened by close cultural ties and common participation in La Francophonie.
Canada is represented in Lebanon by its embassy in Beirut and increased its diplomatic presence there in response to the crisis in Syria. Lebanon is represented in Canada by its embassy in Ottawa.
Since 2016, Canada has committed over $475 million to support Lebanon’s stability and resilience as it copes with the effects of the conflicts in Iraq and Syria and the catastrophic explosion at the Beirut port in 2020. Lebanon now hosts more than an estimated 865,350 Syrian refugees that have been added to the country’s already existing refugee population, which also includes Palestinians, Iraqis and Kurds.
Lebanon was the single largest source for Canada’s accelerated Syrian refugee resettlement efforts in 2015 to 2017. Of the more than 60,000 Syrian refugees who were resettled in Canada, over 30,000 – more than half - came from Lebanon.
Between 2016 and 2022 Canada will have committed over $4 billion humanitarian, development, military, and stabilization and security assistance for the region, including Lebanon, with an emphasis on building stability, governance, and long-term resilience.
In the immediate aftermath of the August 4, 2020 explosion of the Port of Beirut, Canada provided $30 million in emergency humanitarian assistance and early-recovery support, and then announced another $20 million in August 2021 to support the economic recovery of Beirut. This funding has helped trusted partners address immediate humanitarian needs and is supporting efforts for early recovery and resilience.
Despite Lebanon’s economic challenges, Canada's bilateral trade with Lebanon increased in recent years. While two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Lebanon grew to $157 million in 2019 (up 60% from 2013), trading fell to $110 million in 2020, largely due to shrinking Lebanese imports of Canadian goods as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and Lebanon’s dwindling purchasing power on world markets. However, a considerable uptick in trading activity occurred in 2021, with two-way merchandise trade returning to pre-pandemic levels and nearly reaching $160 million.
Key sectors for Canada include agriculture/agri-food products, information and communication technologies, education, and life sciences.
Key sectors for Lebanon include tourism and agriculture/agri-food products.
Canada’s top merchandise exports to Lebanon include:
- Vehicle parts;
- Agri-foods (in particular wheat and legumes);
- Pharmaceuticals and other industrial and consumer goods.
Agri-food products constitute the majority of Canada’s imports from Lebanon.
Canadian companies and institutions are present in Lebanon in multiple sectors, including:
- Information and communication technologies;
- Consumer products;
- Education and health.
In 2021, 1,325 study permits were issued to Lebanese citizens to study in Canada. This number does not include the many Lebanese-Canadians currently studying in Canada on a Canadian passport.
Development and humanitarian assistance
Canada is supporting Lebanon to withstand the strain of hosting more than 1 million refugees and recover from the Beirut explosion, in a context of political instability, an ongoing financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada’s development assistance supports Lebanon in coping with the cumulative impacts of these crises by promoting gender equality and increasing the socio-economic well-being of the most vulnerable, in particular women and girls, those in crisis-affected host communities and Syrian refugees.
Canadian programming is improving women and girls’ access to education, health and protection services. The programming gives special attention to sexual and reproductive health and to the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence and child and early marriage.
Since 2016, Canada has provided more than $435 million in humanitarian funding to United Nations agencies, the Red Cross Movement and non-governmental organizations. In 2022, Canada has committed over $45 million to support the delivery of urgent humanitarian assistance to all vulnerable crisis-affected people in Lebanon. With this contribution, Canada’s partners are providing food assistance, safe water and sanitation services, basic health care—including sexual and reproductive health services—and protection services, including for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
Canada’s support of Lebanon’s security and social stability includes projects that aim to reduce tensions between refugees and host communities under pressures, as well as community security projects that strengthen the capacity of local police services and the Lebanese Armed Forces to prevent and respond to conflict and violent acts of extremism.
In addition, Canada, through the Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program, supports multilateral initiatives that aim to counter violent extremism, to prevent the infiltration of foreign fighters and to secure Lebanon’s borders. In support of Canada’s training and assistance program in Lebanon, Canada has also donated non-lethal equipment and support vehicles to the Lebanese Armed Forces to enhance their capacity to secure and monitor border regions. Such efforts are in-line with broader capacity-building efforts in the region, which include similar lines of engagement in Jordan and in Iraq.
The neighboring Syrian conflict presents a continuous threat to Lebanon’s security and stability. In partnership with Canada’s Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program, a Canadian Armed Forces Training Assistance Team (CTAT) is based in Lebanon to undertake capacity-building initiatives through Operation IMPACT that support efforts to secure the Lebanon-Syria border. Since 2019, Lebanon has participated in Canada’s Military Training and Cooperation Program.
Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1757, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) was established at The Hague, the Netherlands, to investigate the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri and other victims. Canada has supported the STL from the outset and has made contributions valued at over $7 million to it, including secondments of Canadian police officers. The STL’s first two prosecutors were Canadians, and Canada is the vice-chair of the STL Management Committee.
Partnerships and organizations
To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, Canada and Lebanon work closely in multilateral fora, such as:
- La Francophonie
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- United Nations (UN)
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
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