European Union (EU) Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva visited Burj Barajneh Camp in Beirut accompanied by Director of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Affairs in Lebanon Ann Dismorr and the Ambassador of Palestine in Lebanon Ashraf Dabbour.
The delegation met with Palestinian families who had fled the ongoing violence in Syria to Burj Barajneh camp. The families described the effects of the conflict on their lives and the daily challenges they experience in Lebanon regarding housing and the high cost of living.
“It is crucial that relief aid is provided to all refugees from Syria regardless of their origin, religious belief or political affiliation,” said Ms. Georgieva. “We therefore support a wide of range of partners in meeting the needs of refugees from Syria including UNRWA which has the specific mandate to provide aid to refugees of Palestinian origin. The visit also allowed me to appreciate how assistance to Palestine refugees is progressively moving from emergency assistance to long-term structured support.”
The Commissioner visited UNRWA installations in the camp where she was briefed about the general situation of Palestine refugees in Lebanon and the UNRWA services available to them. The challenges refugees face were also discussed, especially the Agency’s relief operations in Nahr el Bared camp.
Expressing UNRWA’s appreciation to the EU, Ms. Dismorr said: “I would like to thank Commissioner Georgieva and ECHO for their engagement and financial support to Palestine refugees fleeing from Syria to Lebanon. Most of them are in dire need of assistance. Commissioner Georgieva’s visit emphasizes the importance of responding to the refugees’ needs, which is what we and our partners are doing with funds from ECHO and other donors.”
The EU is the Agency’s largest multilateral donor, contributing EUR 91.5 million to UNRWA’s General Fund in 2012. In addition, since 2006, the EU has provided EUR 65.5 million to Lebanon, with EUR 10 million from ECHO. This includes EUR 31.5 million to support reconstruction and relief of Nahr el-Bared camp and EUR 34 million for projects in Lebanon.
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, microfinance and emergency assistance.
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, supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit.
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