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:

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.

For more information, please contact:

Gaza Emergency 1