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

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 funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions, and financial support has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, deepening poverty and conflict. As a result, the UNRWA General Fund, which supports core essential services and most staffing costs, operates with a large deficit. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large deficits, are funded through separate funding portals. 

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

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