BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army received 20 military ambulances Thursday as part of an ongoing commitment made last year by the Netherland’s foreign minister to Lebanon’s military. “The Netherlands stands by Lebanon in facing the enormous challenge to keep its borders safe against terrorists and open for those in need, while trying to preserve stability in the country,” the newly appointed Dutch ambassador, Han-Maurits Schaapveld, said during Thursday’s ceremony at an Army’s base in Mount Lebanon’s Kfar Shima, according to a press release from the embassy.
“These ambulances will help the Land Border Regiments to provide better medical care to troops at the northern and northeastern borders with Syria,” Schaapveld said.
The ambassador and Dutch Defense Attache Lt. Col. Jan-Willem Mezger inspected the ambulances before presenting the vehicles’ keys to the Army’s deputy chief of staff for procurement, Brig. Gen. Jean Farah, the statement said.
Speaking to The Daily Star after the ceremony, Schaapveld said the donation of ambulances is the result of a decision made during a 2016 visit to Lebanon by Foreign Minister Bert Koenders.
“Our minister of foreign affairs visited last year, reviewing the work of the LAF in terms of border control ... he was very impressed with the way the Land Border Regiments operated in the difficult circumstances of the Syrian crisis,” Schaapveld said.
“When discussing with border regiments what they specifically needed, it was quickly agreed that ambulances were needed, particularly for soldiers who were hurt at the border posts,” he added.
The donation is part of a 200 million euro ($214.5 million) aid package the Netherlands has pledged to Lebanon. According to the ambassador, about 12 million euros of the sum has been allocated to Lebanon’s security sector.
“The Netherlands is supporting the LAF in several ways, one is integrated border management ... providing training and equipment necessary to control borders and who crosses [them]. We’ve just added the ambulances and we also support the Army in civil-military cooperation,” he said.
Schaapveld added that Dutch assistance is also supporting the Lebanese Army’s launch of several new regional centers, one of which is scheduled to open in the Bekaa Valley this summer.