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 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 more than US$ 106  million.

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