Needs of Palestinians fleeing Syria "urgent", says UN envoy

31 January 2013

31 January
Ein El Hilweh, Lebanon
UN Special Coordinator visits Ein El Hilweh
The UN‘s Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly visited the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein El Hilweh in south Lebanon today with Ann Dismor, UNRWA‘s Director in Lebanon.

Plumbly met with Palestine refugees based in the camp, and others who have taken refuge there after fleeing the violence in neighboring Syria.

“I have seen the difficult conditions in Ein El Hilweh. The plight of refugees arriving from Syria is truly distressing,” he said. “UNRWA has been helping, within available resources.

"The needs of Palestine refugees displaced from Syria were covered in the appeals discussed in the international donors’ conference in Kuwait yesterday. There is clearly an urgent need for more assistance” .

In addition to some 53,000 registered Palestine refugees that live normally in the camp, it is estimated that more than 4,000 Palestine refugees from Syria are sheltering there.

Plumbly also met with leaders of the different factions represented in the security and popular committees at Ein El Hilweh. Plumbly said he was encouraged by their efforts to maintain law and order in the camp, and to create a sense of unity.

He also met with representatives of Palestinian women’s organisations and of a Palestinian youth group, commending their efforts to improve the wellbeing of the camp, despite difficult conditions.

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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 and deepening poverty. 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.

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