Saudi Arabia donates US$25 million for Nahr El Bared

05 May 2009

5 May 2009

Amman

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made a contribution of US$ 25 million to the United Nations Relief & Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), for the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared camp in North Lebanon.

In a ceremony held on 5 May in Amman, UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd and Engineer Youssef Al-Bassam, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the Saudi Fund, signed the donation agreement.

The reconstruction work of Nahr el-Bared camp will be split into eight packages. Construction work in the first package is expected to start soon. The contribution of the Saudi Fund will complete financing for the reconstruction of the infrastructure and the housing units of the second package, thus enabling around 500 displaced families to return to their newly-reconstructed houses and businesses in the camp, while the balance will be used for subsequent packages yet to be decided.

Expressing the Lebanese Government’s appreciation of the new contribution, Ambassador Khalil Makkawi, Chairman of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee said: "The Lebanese Government highly values the generous contribution of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia towards the reconstruction of Nahr el- Bared camp. This is another sign of the long-standing commitment of the Kingdom to support Lebanon, the Palestinian cause and the rights of Palestinians. I am confident that this contribution will encourage donors who have not yet contributed to the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared to come forward with their pledges and for those who have already contributed to give more in order to alleviate the suffering of thousands of Palestinian refugees and Lebanese."

"This donation comes at a vital time, as we are about to enter the construction phase of the Nahr el-Bared project", said UNRWA’s Commissioner-General after signing the agreement with the Saudi Fund, adding that "the support of the Saudi Fund will help build momentum in our work and provide a clear signal to the refugee community that the camp will be reconstructed".

Some 27,000 Palestine refugees were displaced after the destruction of Nahr el- Bared camp in 2007 in fighting between the Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam. UNRWA, through the generous support of donors, has provided the displaced people with food and other emergency assistance for nearly two years and the Agency has, in addition, constructed temporary shelters in the area adjacent to Nahr el-Bared for the refugees and provided rental subsidies to those living in rented accommodation.

-END-

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972-(0)54-240-2659
Office: +972-(0)2-589-0267

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972-(0)54-216-8295
Office: +972 (0)2-589-0724

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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