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First National (Lebanon) Workshop on Animal Welfare

Experts from across the European Union will join stakeholders in Lebanon for the first national workshop on animal welfare on May 18th and 19th.
Held under the patronage of the Lebanese Minister of Agriculture, HE Dr. Hussein Hajj Hassan, this two day workshop is a major initiative to enact national animal welfare legislation.

The European Commission offers training and assistance to countries surrounding the European Union through its Technical Assistance and Information Exchange (TAIEX) program. Animals Lebanon was invited to a regional TAIEX workshop held in Jordan in 2009 and after seeing the potential benefits worked to have a similar workshop take place in Lebanon.

“The Ministry of Agriculture has accepted that animal welfare is an issue important to the public and has to be addressed,” said Lana El-Khalil, President of Animals Lebanon. “We are pleased they agreed to work with Animals Lebanon and allowed us to organize this important workshop.”

For two full days, some of the top experts in the field of animal welfare will participate in the workshop, speaking about European Union minimum standards and how they can be applied in and benefit Lebanon.

The two main topics that will be discussed are zoos and CITES, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, two areas where Lebanon lags far behind other countries in the region.

The Minister of Agriculture has committed to having Lebanon join CITES by 2011, and expressed his intentions at the recent CITES conference in Qatar. Despite this, the smuggling of endangered wildlife continues and lions, grey parrots, chimpanzees and other animals are smuggled through or into Lebanon. Nearly all countries have joined CITES, and those which haven’t are often used as hubs for smuggling.

Since 2005 three new zoos have opened in Lebanon, and many others have existed for years. There is no legislation to license or regulate zoos in Lebanon, and no zoo is part of the World Zoo Association or the European Association of Zoo and Aquaria. In zoos throughout the country there is little or no conservation or education value and animals suffer in horribly inadequate conditions.

In an effort to improve compliance with and join CITES, experts will explain about such as issues as how to deal with confiscated animals, transport conditions of CITES listed animals, and animal welfare at border posts. Presentations on authorization and inspection of zoos, registration of animals, and animal welfare in zoos will illustrate how zoos in Lebanon must improve and the necessity of national legislation regulation zoos.

“The value of the workshop can be measured by what the 70 participants put into it,” Lana explained. “We need a room full of stakeholders who are actively engaged, and realize that they are each in a position to help make a major difference. This is a good first beginning to enacting national animal welfare laws and now is the time for everyone to prove this is an issue that is being taken seriously.”

The process of enacting national animal welfare legislation will be long and difficult.  Animals Lebanon is committed to bringing about the time when laws are enacted and enforced.  Donate now to support the campaign to enact animal welfare legislation in Lebanon.

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