The Relief and Social Services (RSS) programme in Lebanon assists impoverished Palestine refugees and promotes the development and self-reliance of disadvantaged members of the refugee community, especially women, children, youth, persons with disabilities and the elderly.
Our special hardship assistance programme provides quarterly in-kind food and cash assistance to around 55,000 Palestine refugees in Lebanon, as well as emergency cash assistance for specific cases of urgent need. We recently reformed our targeting approach for this programme, guided by a socioeconomic survey of Palestine refugees in Lebanon conducted by UNRWA and the American University of Beirut. This survey helped us develop a set of indicators, including poverty lines, to use as thresholds for eligibility.
The poor and the vulnerable are at the core of the programme. We also provide targeted services for women, youth and persons with disabilities, through RSS, other UNRWA programmes or partnerships with community-based and non-governmental organizations.
All of our services aim to increase recipients’ opportunities for a better future by building their knowledge, potential and assets. In 2012, the programme supported 2,230 Palestine refugees in Lebanon – including women, youth and persons with disabilities – with trainings, apprenticeships, rehabilitation and awareness-raising activities.
We provided specialized services to support persons with disabilities and survivors of gender-based violence.
We also run a microcredit community support programme that provides loans for start-ups or business expansion. This helps beneficiaries promote their economic development and enhances job creation among the Palestine refugee community. The programme also provides housing loans to improve the refugees’ living conditions, since Palestine refugees in Lebanon have long suffered from poor housing conditions and a shortage of housing.
In 2012, our programme distributed a total of US$ 12 million through 2,775 loans, helping to create or save 4,319 jobs. The majority of the supported businesses are in the services sector, followed by small industry, animal husbandry and medical technology. As part of UNRWA’s commitment to support underprivileged Palestine refugees, the Agency gives special attention to women, youth and persons with disabilities, in an effort to encourage entrepreneurship among these groups.
In emergency situations, RSS is in charge of registering Palestine refugees and recording other persons eligible to receive UNRWA services, providing food and non-food items and participating in the planning and implementation of livelihood-recovery activities.