EU and UNRWA sign a EUR €12 million agreement to improve the living conditions of Palestine refugees in Lebanon

29 September 2011

29 September 2011
Beirut

Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst, head of the delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, and UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi this morning signed a EUR €12 million agreement to strengthen UNRWA‘s work in Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon. The project will provide adequate shelter to the most vulnerable Palestine refugee families living in Lebanon for the period 2011 to 2013.

The project is financed by the Instrument for Stability (IfS), which is the EU mechanism to respond to crises, facilitate recovery processes and pre-empt further relapses. In 2008 and 2009, the EU already mobilised the IfS to support UNRWA operations in north Lebanon to create the conditions for the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared camp and the revival of the local economy.

On the occasion of the signature of the agreement with UNRWA, Ambassador Eichhorst said: "By providing funds for the rehabilitation of more than 700 shelters in Palestinian camps throughout Lebanon and by paying cash rental subsidies to more than 3,000 families waiting to return to their reconstructed houses in Nahr el-Bared camp, the project presents a tangible evidence of the EU willingness to keep on improving the living conditions of Palestine refugees in Lebanon, while awaiting that more long-lasting solutions are found in the framework of a comprehensive and negotiated peace agreement between Palestinian and Israeli authorities."

Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi said: “This important contribution will go a long way towards improving the dire living conditions of thousands of impoverished refugee families across Lebanon who are living in unsafe or unhealthy shelters. It demonstrates, once again, the EU’s steadfast support for UNRWA and the refugees we serve, allowing UNRWA to help those in need until such time as a just and lasting solution to their plight has been reached."

The EU and its Member States are the biggest donors to UNRWA. Together with humanitarian aid, support from the Instrument for Stability and from the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument (ENPI), the European Commission has disbursed more than EUR €80 million in support of Palestine refugees in Lebanon over the last four years, through UNRWA and other partners.

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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