The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) marked the inauguration of an infrastructure improvement project today, unveiling the project's foundation stone in the Palestine refugee camp of Ein el Hilweh, Saida.
The ceremony was attended by the Head of the Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to Lebanon, Diego Escalona-Paturel, and the Deputy Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, John Marks. Also present were the representative of the Embassy of Palestine to Lebanon, Ramzi Mansour; the representative of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, Lina Hamdan; and a number of representatives of the Palestinian community.
The purpose of the EU-funded project is to improve the housing, hygiene and health conditions of the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in Lebanon through the rehabilitation of camp infrastructure. The project includes the rehabilitation and upgrading of the existing infrastructure in the south district of Ein el Hilweh camp (Package 1) through improving the main and secondary water supply systems, upgrading the main and secondary sewerage systems, constructing new storm-water and drainage systems, and updating and reinstating all the roads and pathways of the area.
This intervention is part of the overall infrastructure rehabilitation of Ein El Hilweh camp. The project was divided into four packages to ease fundraising. UNRWA was able to secure complete funding, with the EU supporting two of the rehabilitation packages.
Thanking the EU for its continuous support to UNRWA, Mr. Marks said: “This project is crucial for residents of Ein El Hilweh, as the camp’s water and sewerage network has been in dire need of rehabilitation for years. We are, together with our donors, committed to doing all we can to improve the living conditions of Palestine refugees in Lebanon.”
Marking the occasion, Mr. Escalona-Paturel said: "We at the European Union strongly believe that Palestinian refugees have the right to live in a decent and safe environment with access to all social services.” He added, "Human development is possible only when social conditions and dignity for all are respected, thus offering the best environment to grow."
The generous contribution of EUR 4.4 million (US$ 5.9 million) from the European Union, under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), will enable UNRWA to not only upgrade the infrastructure systems in the south district of Ein el Hilweh camp, but also to rehabilitate the dilapidated shelters of at least 160 of the most vulnerable families living in Palestine refugee camps. The funding will also support the upgrading of eight UNRWA health centres located in, or in the vicinity of, Palestine refugee camps across the country, which will benefit more than 140,000 Palestine refugees in Lebanon.
The European Union is one of the leading UNRWA donors and has a long history of supporting the Agency through its regular budget, emergency appeals and projects. In 2013, the European Commission alone provided EUR 80 million (US$ 107.4 million) to the UNRWA General Fund, and around EUR 40 million (US$ 53.7 million) specifically to support UNRWA infrastructure projects in Lebanon, as part of a joint effort to improve the living conditions of Palestine refugees in the country.
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