BEIRUT UPDATE – 1st April 2011
The Conference Consortium logistics team and Harm Reduction International staff are all now in Beirut and everything is falng into place. The conference banners along the main roads leading to the venue look magnificent, it´s a balmy high 20 degrees and there is a bustling good energy around the venue. Yesterday´s launch press conference was attended by all the major newspapers, radio and TV stations in Lebanon and the BBC. The Lebanese government also announced the first legal sale of Buprenorphine in a 12 month phase 1 pilot and thereafter will be available in all government hospital pharmacies. So good news to kick off with. Saturday sees the opening of the public MTV International Drugs and Harm Reduction Film Festival to be opened by the biggest TV personality in the Middle East Georges Kordahi and to be attended by Miss Lebanon. Lebanon´s film critics and entertainment reporters will be there too.
There have been a number of incidents involving visitors to Lebanon that have been reported in the media. None of these incidents have been in or around Beirut and our colleagues locally have assured us that the situation there remains normal. Whilst we understand that the incidents give cause for concern, we are confident that the security situation in Beirut itself remains stable and the safety of delegates attending the conference is not in question. We would however advise those who intend to travel outside of Beirut and Lebanon itself during their stay to seek advice and assess the situation when they arrive, to determine whether such travel is advisable.
Looking forward to seeing all of you here and we wish you a great stay and a rewarding conference.
Rick Lines - Executive Director, Harm Reduction International
Paddy Costall – Managing Director, Conference Consortium