The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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October 17, 2016

The Daily Star- NGO marks World Animal Day with Beirut Souks event, October 17 , 2016

BEIRUT: Pets and their owners gathered in Beirut Souks Saturday to celebrate World Animal Day and raise awareness of pet adoption. World Animal Day, held globally every October, aims to raise the status of animals and promote their welfare. Initiated in Germany in 1925, it has been marked in Lebanon by animal rights NGO Animals Lebanon since 2008.
Lana el-Khalil, Lebanon’s World Animal Day ambassador and president of Animals Lebanon, told The Daily Star amid the barking of dozens of dogs: “Over the years, we’ve chosen different ways to promote the message that this is their [animals’] world too, and they have a right to be protected from harm and abuse.”
This year’s event focused on animal rescue and adoption. Khalil explained that the culture of owning pets, let alone adopting them, is very new in Lebanon. “In general, animal welfare is not something that is widely endorsed,” she explained.
On top of that, there are few organizations that shelter animals in Lebanon, and they struggle to find homes for all the animals they rescue. “This year we’ve had so many rescues, however we’re facing a problem of how to get these animals into homes,” Khalil said. “Our volunteers sometimes put themselves in very difficult circumstances to get [animals] off the streets, but afterward we really need the public ... to open your hearts and homes.”
However, the fact that more animals are being rescued is a positive sign, Khalil said. “We now have taxi drivers who call us and say ‘I found this kitten in my engine, what do I do?’” she said. “So we feel the culture of compassion, and understanding that we have a responsibility to protect these animals, is spreading.”
Her colleague Jason Mier, director of Animals Lebanon, agreed, pointing out that this kind of event is a good way to raise awareness.
“What the average person thinks of first with animals is cats and dogs, so if you’re reaching new people, it’s a good place to start,” he said.
Much of Animals Lebanon’s work is focused on lobbying and on confiscating mistreated animals, so the day’s event, with a DJ, photo competition and a photo booth, where families could dress up and take pictures with pets and friends, was a change from the norm for the organization.
“Our work is very heavy usually,” Khalil said, next to a group of kids and puppies playing. “Today we wanted to just have a celebration of those who have adopted [pets]. It’s also [about introducing] children to the issues, and [about] normalizing of the idea of dogs in public spaces.”
In August, Beirut Municipality proposed a regulation to ban dogs from Beirut’s few public areas. The proposal was abandoned a few days later following a backlash from residents and dog owners. The pushback was indicative of changing attitudes toward pet ownership.
Tina el-Khoury, who has been a volunteer with Animals Lebanon for four years, said people were slowly coming around. “You can see the difference from the number of adoptions per year and number of participants and volunteers. You can see people are more interested in the welfare of animals.”
One attendee, Rafka Bou Malhab, who brought her adopted dog, agreed, but said there was still a long way to go.
“[Adoption] is very rare because we barely have human values, so what do you expect for animal values?” she said. “Events like this definitely help raise awareness, and it will hopefully get better and better.”

Source & Link : The Daily Star

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