Grandi Praises Lebanese Government’s Commitment

02 March 2010

18 February 2010

Beirut

UNRWA’s newly appointed Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi visited Lebanon from 16 to 18 February, accompanied by his new deputy, Margot Ellis. Prior to his appointment, Mr Grandi served as UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General for five years.

This was Mr Grandi’s first visit to Lebanon as UNRWA Commissioner-General, during which he met Lebanese officials including the president of the Lebanese Republic, the prime minister, the minister of foreign affairs and the chief of the army, as well as representatives of donors, UN officials and Palestinian officials in Lebanon.

During his visit, Mr Grandi also had a general meeting with UNRWA staff, and briefed them about the priorities of the Agency for the coming three years. He then toured Burj Barajneh camp in Beirut, where he was briefed about the progress of works in the infrastructure project funded by the European Union in the camp. He also had lunch with the elderly in Burj Barajneh’s active ageing house.

At the end of his visit, Mr Grandi praised the commitment of the Lebanese government to improve the living conditions of the Palestine refugees in Lebanon, stressing that improving the conditions of refugees does not mean their naturalisation in Lebanon. He also thanked the efforts by prime minister Hariri in helping UNRWA raise funds for the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared camp.

Mr Grandi highlighted the financial challenges facing UNRWA, with a shortage of US$100 million in the general fund to run the usual services. On this occasion, he thanked UNRWA’s generous donors and urged them to donate more to the Agency’s general fund.
 

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$ 68 million.

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