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The Countess of Wessex meets refugees in Lebanon

Women, peace and security dominate agenda of closely guarded trip

The Countess of Wessex is making an official visit to Lebanon. It is the first such trip by a member of the British Royal Family to the country.

Sophie had already arrived in Lebanon when news of her visit was announced. The details were kept secret for security reasons.

As the Countess of Wessex arrived in the country, the UK Embassy said they were delighted to welcome her for a visit that ”is a symbol of the strong friendship between the UK and Lebanon”.

The first stop for Sophie was Bekaa where she spent time at what’s described as an ‘informal settlement’. It’s housing refugees from Syria and the Countess of Wessex met several of the women who have made their homes there. She heard of the struggles they face every day and of the work being done by organisations including the UK Department for International Development to help them get enough food, drink and clothing.

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Sophie’s historic visit will focus on the role of women in society. During her time in Lebanon she will meet those involved with tackling and preventing sexual and gender based violence in the region. The Countess of Wessex will also meet women involved in peace-making efforts and hear how the UK is supporting women’s involvement in security issues there.

The royal visit will also see Sophie meet Lebanese leaders while the overall aims of the trip include shining a spotlight on women’s role in Lebanese society and the support given to them by the UK as well as strengthening relations between the two countries.

Earlier this year, the Countess of Wessex announced her commitment to supporting the UK’s efforts in the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS). Sophie has been accompanied on this trip by Lord Ahmad who is the UK Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict as well as Minister of State for the Commonwealth and United Nations.

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