Belgium donates EUR 600,000 for Nahr el-Bared

01 December 2010

1 December 2010
Beirut

Belgium has donated EUR 600,000 (US$816,326) to support relief and recovery activities for Nahr el-Bared displaced refugees for 2010 through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The donation was announced during a ceremony that was held in UNRWA offices in Beirut, in the presence of Belgian Ambassador H.E. Johan Verkammen, Palestine Liberation Organization Representative H.E. Abdallah Abdallah, and Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon Mr Salvatore Lombardo.

On this occasion H.E. Johan Verkammen said: “"Belgium is committed to do its bit in the reconstruction of the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp. After our previous donations to pre-reconstruction operations of the camp, we were able to add €600,000 to support relief and recovery activities for 2010, to help the NBC displaced refugees meet their basic critical needs. Rebuilding the camp and providing the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon with a life of dignity and security within an environment where law and order prevails, until they can exercise their right of return, is a shared responsibility of the Lebanese state and the international community. Creating a better life for the Palestinians should also help prevent the camps from becoming fertile grounds to extremist groups, threatening the stability of Lebanon and international peace and security."

The representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Ambassador Abdallah Abdallah, thanked the government of Belgium and said that this contribution “comes very timely and is very much appreciated. We are grateful to Belgium and all other donors who are contributing to easing the plight of the Nahr el-Bared displaced."

Ms Roula Derbas, the legal consultant of the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee, stressed that this is a “joint local, international or government responsibility towards the political and humanitarian crisis of the Palestinian refugees in general, and more specifically the consequences of el-Bared conflict.” She added that Prime Minister Saad Hariri continues to deploy a lot of efforts, urging neighbouring and friend states to provide the funding needed for the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared camp, to ensure the return of its inhabitants and guarantee them a decent life under the authority of the Lebanese state.

Thanking all UNRWA partners, Mr Lombardo said: “I thank Belgium for its ongoing support to relief and recovery activities in Nahr el-Bared. Aside from the physical reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared camp, it is incredibly important for us to ensure dignity is returned to the lives of its inhabitants. Through the funds provided by Belgium and other generous donors, we are able to cover decent temporary housing for the poor displaced and a life with minimum dignity until they return to their reconstructed homes."

The Belgian government has generously supported displaced NBC refugees since the onset of the crisis, by donating EUR 2,000,000 to pre-reconstruction operations, namely rubble removal. Belgium provides contributions to both the Agency‘s General Fund and regular and emergency projects. The government of Belgium contributed EUR 4.2 million to the GF in 2010 and EUR 1.3 million in 2009.

The destruction of Nahr el-Bared Camp in the conflict in 2007, and the subsequent displacement of some 27,000 Palestine refugees from the camp and its adjacent areas created a humanitarian crisis, the effects of which are still being felt three years on. Thanks to donor contributions since 2007, UNRWA has been able to meet the most basic needs of the displaced refugees. The physical reconstruction of the camp started in November 2009, with construction under way for two packages out of eight, and three of six schools. Nevertheless, the long-term recovery of the camp and its residents is by no means assured. In
2011, US$ 18.51 million will be needed to fund relief and recovery activities for the Nahr el-Bared displaced without which the Agency will not be able to provide temporary housing, medical care nor food assistance to some 27,000 displaced.

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For further information please contact:

Hoda Samra
UNRWA Public information officer in Lebanon
+961-70-010129
Fax: +961-1-840468
Email: h.samra@unrwa.org

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 56 million.

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