Italy invests in health and sports in Palestine refugee camps

28 March 2012

27 March 2012
Beirut, Lebanon

On the occasion of the visit to Lebanon of His Excellency Prof. Andrea Riccardi, Italian Minister for International Cooperation and Integration, the Italian Embassy in Lebanon and UNRWA inaugurated today a health centre and playground facilities in the Palestine refugee camp of Dbayeh.

The ceremony took place at Dbayeh camp and was attended by H.E. Prof Riccardi, H.E. Mr. Giuseppe Morabito, Ambassador of Italy to Lebanon, H.E. Mr. Ashraf Dabbour, Ambassador of Palestine to Lebanon, Mr. Salvatore Lombardo, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, and Mr. Fadi Abilmona representing the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, amongst other guests and representatives of the Palestinian community.

The rehabilitation and provision of equipment to the health centre and the rehabilitation of the playground at Dbayeh camp were made possible thanks to a project funded by the Italian Cooperation Office - Embassy of Italy in Beirut for a total amount of EUR 130,000.

Mr. Lombardo said: "The residents of Dbayeh Camp are very grateful for this generous contribution, which will provide better facilities in the camp. Our doctors can now receive patients in a safe and healthy setting and the playground will give space for exercise and play. I thank Italy for its continuous and strong support for Palestine refugees in Lebanon.”

This project is part of Italy’s broader support for Palestine refugees in Lebanon. Over the last six years alone, Italy has contributed over EUR 18 million to the improvement of living conditions for Palestine refugees in Lebanon, favouring at the same time projects that promote peace and dialogue between Palestinians and Lebanese citizens. Over half of these funds have supported projects implemented through UNRWA.

Italy has been especially active in the health and sports sectors. In particular, it has been a pioneer in supporting reforms currently being undertaken by UNRWA to improve health care coverage. To this end, Italy has dedicated EUR 1.5 million to the improvement of hospitalisation, and to more efficiently manage health services provided for Palestine refugees. Italy remains the lead contributor to this reform.

Italy has also reiterated its strong belief in the role of sports as a tool to support the full development of children and youth and to promote dialogue between young Palestinians and their Lebanese peers. To this end, Italy supports every year “Palestiniadi”, a series of sporting competitions for Palestinian children that fosters greater contact with Lebanese children. In addition, over the years Italy has contributed to bettering the lives of children in camps through the rehabilitation of a number of playgrounds (Shatila, Rashidieh, El Buss, Ein El Hilweh, Beddawi).

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For further information please contact Hoda Samra, UNRWA Public information officer in Lebanon: +961-70-010129 fax: +961-1-840468 or by e-mail: h.samra@unrwa.org

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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