14 July 2013
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Lebanon, Robert Watkins, visited the Ein El Hilweh Palestine refugee camp in Saida, south Lebanon, on 11 July , accompanied by Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, and Ann Dismorr, the Director of Operations in Lebanon for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). In Ein El Hilweh, the UN officials learned about the many hardships facing Palestinian refugees from Syria (PRS), thousands of whom have fled the long-running conflict.
During their visit, Mr Watkins and Mrs Zerrougui met with PRS in Lebanon who currently reside in collective temporary accommodation. The families, wishing for an immediate end to the violence in Syria and a speedy return to their homes, told them about the difficult conditions they face in Lebanon, the high cost of living and the trauma of war and displacement. The UN envoys also met with PRS children enrolled in UNRWA schools, a number of NGO representatives and the Palestinian popular committees.
Ms Dismorr briefed Mr Watkins and Mrs Zerrougui on UNRWA efforts to alleviate the suffering of the 71,000 PRS now in Lebanon. She also told them about the challenges facing UNRWA as it works to address their urgent needs in housing, food, water, camp infrastructure, health and education. “The conflict in Syria is one of the greatest challenges UNRWA has seen since it was established, in 1949, to provide relief to Palestine refugees,” she said.
The UN envoys were also informed about the shortfall in the UNRWA relief fund for Palestinian refugees from Syria, and the Agency’s efforts to raise the funds to cater for their needs. On 7 June, UNRWA appealed for US$ 65 million to cover PRS needs from January to December 2013. Of that sum, the Agency has received over US$ 25 million, and has confirmed pledges of an additional US$ 3 million. “We are committed to providing vital services and support to the refugees who have come to Lebanon,” Ms Dismorr said, reiterating the refugee families’ wish for a swift end to the violence in Syria.
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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$ 58.5 million.
For more information, please contact:
PIO, UNRWA – Lebanon
Tel: +961 (1) 840-468
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724