UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) provides advice

The UK successfully attracts high-quality and high-value inward investment and has maintained its standing as the number one investment location in Europe during 2009, second only to the US world-wide.

The East of England is a powerful magnet for overseas companies seeking to globalise and is a positive opportunity for investment and expansion.

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) provides advice and services to business through a network of locally-based International Trade teams. The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) is a key partner of UKTI in the Inward Investment services network.

From 1st April 2010 until 30th March 2011, East of England IDB (EEIDB)  provided the regional Inward Investment programme on behalf of UKTI and EEDA. As the chosen delivery organisation, EEIDB had experience and knowledge of the international marketplace and utilised that knowledge to promote the region as a great place to do business and exploit opportunities that would improve the regions economic health.

The Inward Investment activities that EEIDB provided included: ·

  • Provision of comprehensive information on business opportunities in the region
  • Identification of joint-venture opportunities and partnerships with companies seeking overseas opportunities
  • Provision of tailor-made information and practical information and support on setting up a business in the UK
  • Specific market information on the social and economic landscape of the East of England region
  • Information and support on immigration, housing, education and relocation
  • Assistance in identifying potential suitable property options for current and future needs
  • Arranging and accompanying potential investors on a personal visit to the region to meet with interested parties
  • Provision of effective access to world class research taking place in the regions 11 universities and higher education institutes
  • Assistance in the identification of suitable subcontractors, utility providers, component and service suppliers
  • Assistance in accessing a wealth of business support to help maintain company competitiveness post investment
  • Information on grants and loan opportunities available to investors from all areas including local and central government, the EU and other grant making bodies
  • Introductions to professional service providers such as accountants, lawyers, bankers and recruitment specialists
  • Sharing knowledge of businesses and institutions that are seeking investment and that might be suitable for foreign investor opportunities
  • Putting partnerships in place to mobilise organisations in order to resolve barriers to investment and to develop and deliver the most effective business case for future investment

Failure to acknowledge disabled people’s right to employment

Beirut, Lebanon –:24 June 2004 –“You are welcome but you won’t get it,” said Father Ayoub El Said, summarizing the response disabled people get when they demand the application of Law No. 220 and other basic necessities from the government. Father El Said was one of hundreds of people who gathered on Wednesday, June 16, 2004, on crutches and in wheel chairs, to sing about their rights and list their demands on signs and printed posters. The disabled people who demonstrated were joined by representatives from more than 60 organizations, including disabled rights groups; civil associations; women’s and young people’s groups; and development organizations.

Their first demand was the implementation of Law No. 220, ratified in 2000. This law establishes a quota for the hiring of disabled people in public institutions and in the private sector. “If I don’t get the chance to work in the public sector because I am disabled, how am I supposed to admonish the private sector if it does not enforce the law and give me the chance to work?” said Dr. Fawzi Ariji to Human Rights Media (HRM).

The government still hasn’t implemented the four year old law. In a statement given by Silvana Lakkis, president of the Lebanese Physically Handicapped Union, associations of the disabled and civil organizations said the following: “We are gathered here in a sit-in before the parliament where, four years ago, Law No. 220 enshrining the rights of the disabled was issued… According to the Lebanese constitution, the government is held accountable for its work by the parliament. We have come here to stage a sit-in because the government has spent four years ignoring laws related to the disabled, and because the ministries did not answer our demands that they fulfill their responsibilities as stipulated in the law. We have come here after four years during which the poverty, marginalization, unemployment, illiteracy, and human rights violations against disabled people only grew. People say that poverty is increasingly affecting all citizens; we say that we accept equality. But the poverty to which we are subject transgresses human dignity, and results from a failure to acknowledge our rights as citizens. But unemployment of disabled people is not due to the lack of job opportunities, but to the unequal opportunities and the absence of rehabilitation on one hand, and to a failure to acknowledge disabled people’s right to employment on the other hand. They say the government is paralyzed on all levels; we ask then why is it so active in doling out personal and selective benefits, and why in holding electoral campaigns? They say we are not a priority. Well, if the interests of poor and marginalized social classes are not the priority of a government, then this government should be dismissed. That’s why we ask the parliament to convene an extraordinary session to investigate the government’s disregard for and refusal to implement Law No. 220 enforcing disabled people’s rights.

This law was intended to effect social change and progress on several levels, for the benefit of all people, not only the disabled. This law would lead primarily to:
-moving from care based exclusively on voluntary outeach to a society built on the principles of human rights, equality, and equal opportunities.
-moving from the marginalization and isolation of the disabled to their complete integration into the economy and the life of the society.

Do these goals really serve disabled people alone or do they also promote social and economic development for the whole society? We call on the parliament to ask the government to explain the reasons behind its disregard for the law on the rights of the disabled and its justification for hindering the implementation of the law. The parliament should also find out if this disregard stems from the absence of adequate political will to support the social and economic development of the disabled class. (…)

Health and hospitalization issues constitute an endless source of suffering. As for tax exemptions, the financial violations and breaches are too great to enumerate with the ink from a single pen. Yet we read in the newspapers about Lebanon’s impressive human rights record, which is lauded in international human rights assemblies.

Where do we stand on the issue of these rights? You keep talking about democracy and you participate in Arab and international summits, yet you prevent us from influencing our country’s policies and you eliminate us from our country’s map. We strongly denounce the fact that union bodies did not intervene to put an end to the breaches and flagrant neglect of Law No. 220. We assert that this issue is purely one of dignity, rights and economic justice and that if it is not dealt with, it will have negative effects not only on disabled people – effects which are alone sufficient reason for change – but also on the poverty rate in the country. It will also constitute an economic burden. Therefore, honoring the rights of the disabled must be a priority issue. We came here to raise our voices aloud and say: ‘The parliament should bring the government to account and start asking it to implement the law relevant to the rights of the disabled in order to enforce upon the government its role and responsibilities.'”

Many MPs mingled with demonstrators and made several promises, like that of Minister of Finance Fouad Sanioura who reiterated the necessity of the cooperation between the Ministries of Labor and Finance. Before the end of the sit-in, Speaker Nabih Beri reached the Parliament square. Demonstrators quickly surrounded him and asked him for the reason behind the delay in implementing the law. He made promises and asserted that the disabled are the honor of the country, adding that “The true disability is in the government.” Responding to a question regarding whether an extraordinary session will be held to investigate the government’s failure to implement the law, he said, “The government is used to beating around the bush, but with God’s will, the session will be held as soon as possible.” People who participated in the sit-in can do nothing but wait until the promises are fulfilled, something that will not happen before the end of the parliament’s summer vacation.

Human Rights and Committee of Kidnapped Persons

Beirut, Lebanon:23 April 2004 –On Sunday, April 18, 2004, at 6 p.m., like every year, the relatives of the kidnapped gathered at Martyrs Square and claimed their right to know the fate of thousands of people kidnapped during the war in Lebanon. They carried signs saying things like ‘WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR CHILDREN,’ ‘LET’S REMEMBER IT SO WE DON’T REPEAT IT,’ and ‘NO WAR ANYMORE.’ A brother of Samir Al Kontar, a Lebanese prisoner held in Israel, participated in the gathering. Kidnapping is horrible and suffering is horrible, whether the kidnapper was Israeli, Syrian, Palestinian, or Lebanese. Men distributed fliers to passersby for the
Let’s Remember It So We Don’t Repeat It Campaign, and in the square amidst the blue protest signs, they also distributed roses to all participants, hoping that roses of peace will replace each gun fired during the war.

Wadad Halawani, president of the Committee of The Parents of The Kidnapped, asked the parents to gather their sorrows and the pictures of their loved ones in a half-circle next to a sign calling for the construction of a memorial for all the victims of war. Activists from human rights organizations joined them, as well as MPs Beshara Merhej and Ghassan Mkheiber.

The war in Lebanon has ended, but the pain of those who have suffered is not gone. The casefiles on war kidnappings remain open and the promised report of a review panel has not yet seen the light of day.

“My son was kidnapped in Sidon in 1983. A head of a militia known as the Monster and Zaghloul sent for him to come and negotiate for about five minutes. These five minutes became long years,’ says Mountaha Haydar, mother of soldier Samir Kherfen.

Chants from the mothers and the fathers rose, cursing and calling officials to assume responsibility. “With the end of war and the election of President Elias Hraoui, we thought that the issue would be solved within weeks. The second mandate of the Republic of Taef is about to end, and my son hasn’t returned,” says one of the mothers.

Next to the sign calling for a memorial was a picture of missing prisoner Maher Kassir and written underneath it: “I was born in 1966, my registered number is 66, “Beirut Superstar,” Beirut municipal elections candidate, asking for an appointment from???” Maryam Saiid, Maher’s mother, says that the three question marks represent the appointment still not scheduled with the three presidents. Her son was arrested during the Israeli invasion in 1982, as a result of confrontations at the Lebanese University.

Fatma Hamdan, the mother of Saiid Bleibel, claims that her son is present in Israeli prisons, after he was kidnapped by one of the militias, and imprisoned for a while in Byblos. Hassan Rashed Hamada, son of Nabiha Nasr El Din, from Kamatieh, was kidnapped in 1984. His mother calls the state to reveal the truth. Rashid Mohammad Ali Ladoui, son of Halima Ali Jammal, was kidnapped in Tripoli in 1976. “My son is not a member of a political party,” says Rashid’s mother, “but as a result of a fight with some guys, he joined the Amal Movement three months before his kidnapping in the Nabaa Region.

What does a sixteen-year-old boy know about politics to be kidnapped or was his identity the crime?”

Like Israel, like Syria. The son of Umm Ali has been detained in Syrian prisons since 1981. He was taken in the Cola Region, and people testified before General Prosecutor Adnan Addoum that they saw him. Umm Ali sighs, “We had enough of promises,” she says sadly.

Amin Nahlé, a twenty-year-old student from Alzarif High School, says that he is participating in this gathering so that the war does not happen again. “This is a message addressed to the officials because the political situation is real bad.”

Hanane Dirani, a sixteen-year-old student in Fakhr El Dine High School, says this issue is very important and concerns everyone.

Mouhannad Mahfouz from The Arab Open University started participating in the gatherings two years ago “to learn from the Lebanese war and because prisoners and missing persons are part of the war.”

Attorney Nizar Saghieh was there, watching the tears of mothers falling for the sake of their sons, and at that moment, all questions disappeared. In 2001, Saghieh founded the committee to remember and to break the silence. Mothers of the kidnapped collectively do not trust the new investigatory committee headed by Minister Michel Moussa and responsible for revealing the truth. “We have had enough of committees,” said one of the mothers, while one of the signs held up said, “FREE THE REPORT, STOP TORTURING US.”

“We come here and we demonstrate and we leave. We see our picture in the media, but without a result. Many do not know why we demonstrate. We need to find new ways to mobilize for our cause,” said Nizar Amin, a student at the Lebanese University.

The president of the Committee of Kidnapped Persons justifies the small number of participants and says it is due to other demonstrations taking place at the same time. She also asserts that civil organizations should coordinate together and added, “We want a day for the memory for the cause of peace and not war.”

The participants signed two petitions. The first calls for declaring April 13th a national day of memorial to reject violence and fanaticism from people’s hearts and from society. This day is supposed to impart lessons that will be told to the new generations so they avoid the mistakes of their fathers and teach their children in turn. The second petition calls for the building of a memorial to commemorate all the victims of the war, to condemn the crimes of war, to commemorate all the victims, and to be a place of quietude which is free of discrimination.

The gathering ended in the hope that the parents of the missing will locate with their loved ones, or at least they know that their loved ones are martyrs. Every year they will go to the Martyrs Square Memorial, to conciliate and produce a common memory of peace.