Stone-laying ceremony inaugurates EU-funded project in Burj el-Barajneh camp

09 December 2009

9 December


The European Union and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) yesterday unveiled the foundation stone of an ambitious project to improve infrastructure in two Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon.

The long-awaited project, which will help rehabilitate the camps of Burj el-Barajneh and Mar Elias, was the result of a donation of EUR€4 million from the EU. The funds will go towards improving what are currently sub-standard living conditions in the two camps, and working to prevent the regular flooding that occurs during the winter rains.

Yesterday’s ceremony was held in the presence of Marcus Cornaro, Director for Europe, Southern Mediterranean, Middle East and Neighbourhood Policy at the EuropeAid Co-operation Office of the European Commission, Patrick Laurent, the Head of the EU Delegation to Lebanon, and Salvatore Lombardo, director of UNRWA in Lebanon, as well as the ambassadors of EU member states and representatives of the local community.

"The European Union remains actively committed to improving the quality of life of the Palestinians in Lebanon, and in the whole region, through both social support and political efforts", Cornaro said. "We contribute more than EUR€60 million a year to UNRWA’s General Fund, and spend around further EUR€50 million in Lebanon on several priority issues, such as Palestinian education, humanitarian support, and of course support to the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared.

"Let me reassure you," he added, "that we will continue to struggle to ensure decent living conditions for Palestinians".

Thanking the EU on behalf of UNRWA, Mr Lombardo said; "As a result of this project, the 16,000 inhabitants of Burj el-Barajneh will enjoy a healthier environment with a decent water supply and sewage network. Projects like this enable the refugees here to live a more dignified existence. We, together with our donors, are committed to doing all we can to improve the living conditions of Palestine refugees in Lebanon".

Background information

EU flag

Since 1971, the European Union has regularly supported UNRWA, becoming its largest multi-lateral donor. Between 2000 and 2009, the EU has provided over €1 billion of support to the Agency. This funding has enabled human development for the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

In Burj el-Barajneh camp, works starting December 10th 2009 will include:

  • Installation of a new water supply system, with an elevated reservoir and decent water pressure connections, to serve all shelters
  • Repair/replacement of the sewerage network to provide an upgraded drainage from each shelter to the municipal network
  • Drainage of storm water to the municipal network to ensure clean camps and to avoid flooding
  • Re-instatement of alleys, streets and roads after earth works to ensure proper access.

For more information on UNRWA’s work in Lebanon, please contact:
Hoda Samra
Tel: +961-1-840468

For more information on the EU‘s assistance to the occupied Palestinian territory, please contact:
Shadi Othman
Tel: +972 (0)2 541 5888, ext 867

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$ 100 million.

For more information, please contact: