EU Commissioner meets Palestine refugees in Lebanon

06 March 2013

6 March 2013

The EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle visited yesterday UNRWA’s Lebanon Field Office, where he met with beneficiaries of the shelter rehabilitation programme funded by the EU under the Instrument for Stability (IfS) tool. He also announced a new donation of EUR 5 million to support Palestine refugees in Lebanon.

In his meeting with the beneficiaries, Commissioner Füle listened to stories about ways that the rehabilitation affected their families’ lives and health conditions and reassured them that the EU remains committed to supporting UNRWA and Palestine refugees in Lebanon.

He also met with two Palestine refugee families from Syria who discussed their suffering and the difficult conditions that they live under in Lebanon. Explaining that the cost of living in Lebanon is much higher than in Syria, they asked him for additional support for housing and accommodation. Commissioner Füle reiterated the EU’s support for refugees in general and to the Palestine refugees from Syria in particular, and promised to convey their messages to the upcoming meeting of the EU Member States ministers of foreign affairs next week.

Commissioner Füle was accompanied by Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon Angelina Eichorst. The Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon Ann Dismorr participated in the meeting as well as the President of the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee Khaldoun AL-Sharif.

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 more than US$ 106  million.

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