Switzerland funds safe drinking water for seven refugee camps in Lebanon

19 December 2011

16 December 2011
Beirut

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) announced today the start of a new project for the remediation and upgrading of camp water supply networks in seven Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon.

UNRWA will execute this vital project worth USD 2.62 million over two years, that will ensure healthier lives for Palestine refugees by preventing and controlling diseases by providing access to safe drinking water. In addition, SDC will provide UNRWA with three Swiss technical experts for the project.

The ceremony was attended by Ambassador of Switzerland to Lebanon Ruth Flint, the president of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, Ambassador Abdel Majid Qassir, the Ambassador of Palestine to Lebanon Dr. Abdallah Abdallah, UNRWA’s Salvatore Lombardo, and representatives of the Palestinian community.

“Switzerland is committed to ensure that the dignity of Palestine refugees is preserved and that their needs are met,” said Ms. Flint. “We are confident that the delivery and enhancement of water quality, the most basic of needs, in these camps will impact positively on the daily lives of the communities and bring hope of a better future”.

“We are very thankful for the continued and generous support from SDC,” said Mr. Lombardo. “This project will allow 86,000 Palestine refugees to have access to clean water. This is something that Palestinians, especially those living in Beirut camps, have been seeking for a long time. I am pleased that this will soon become a reality.”

This USD 2.62 million intervention will enable UNRWA to assist Palestine refugees residing in seven camps in Lebanon. This will include the planning and implementation of works to improve water production at the source, undertake feasibility studies, and train local staff on the operation and maintenance of the upgraded water plants. The project, started in November 2011, is expected to finish in December 2012.

In addition to this new water project, SDC contributes to UNRWA’s General Fund, emergency appeals, and innovative projects. In Lebanon, SDC funds three UNRWA employment service centres that boost employment prospects for Palestine refugees.

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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: h.samra@unrwa.org

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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