Syria’s First Lady Inaugurates the First Phase of the Neirab Rehabilitation Project in Aleppo

28 September 2009

28 September 2009

Damascus

The First Lady of Syria, Mrs. Asma al-Assad, today marked the completion of Phase I of the Neirab Rehabilitation Project in Ein el-Tal Camp, near Aleppo. Implemented by UNRWA and the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees (GAPAR), the project includes new housing units for 1,500 individuals who moved from Neirab to Ein el-Tal, thereby reducing the population density in Neirab.

The inauguration was also attended by the Minster of Social Affairs and Labour, Dr. Diala Hajj Aref, and UNRWA Commissioner-General, Karen Koning AbuZayd, who accompanied the First Lady on a tour of the camp’s new facilities. Phase I of the project included the construction of 300 new housing units, as well as the improvement and extension of the existing infrastructure (water supply, sewage system, roads and electricity supply) in the entire Ein el Tal camp.

This first phase, jointly funded by the Governments of Syria, Canada, Switzerland and the United States, has benefited over 6,000 people. In addition to an enhanced infrastructure network, the project will provide greater access to health services and extended public areas including a kindergarten, library, physiotherapy centre and sports facilities.

"This pilot project began in 2002 with the construction of the first prototype units. Today, seven years later, we are able to celebrate not only the impressive improvement of living conditions in the camp, but also the active involvement and participation of the refugee community in this unique and unprecedented endeavour." said Mrs. AbuZayd.

The second phase of this project involves the reconstruction of the current camp in which open spaces will be developed for the communities’ commercial and recreational use and will be a model for community participation exemplifying the involvement of the refugees in the planning and implementation of the project.

"This project is an example of the Syrian Government’s efforts to ameliorate the deplorable conditions for refugees in Syria since 1948," said Dr. Diala Haj Aref, in a statement during the inauguration, adding that the "Syrian government is steadfast in its commitment to the right of return for all Palestinian refugees."

Neirab camp, located 13 kilometres east of Aleppo, is the largest in Syria. It was established between 1948-1950 on an area of 148,000 m² in and around army barracks constructed by the Allied Forces during World War II.

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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 US$ 69 million.

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