UNRWA and Monaco sign agreement for better cardiovascular services

17 January 2011

17 January 2011
Beirut

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the principality of Monaco signed, during the visit of H.S.H. Prince Albert II to Lebanon, a memorandum of understanding on Friday 14 January 2011 in the UN House in Beirut.

The MoU was signed by Mr Jose Badia, the Government Counselor for External Relations for Monaco, and Mr Salvatore Lombardo, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, in the presence of UNDP resident representative Mr Shombi Sharp, the Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Ali Chami as well as ambassadors of Italy, Belgium, Spain and Palestine, the head of the development and reconstruction council Mr Samir Jisr, and representatives of UN sister organisations, the civil society and other officials.

The three-year project to be funded by the Principality of Monaco seeks to create a lasting change in the quality of cardiovascular services provided by UNRWA to Palestine refugees in Lebanon. Over the course of three years, new expert staff with up-to-date training, and supplemented by new equipment, will enhance the calibre of cardiovascular diagnosis, treatment and management, thereby reducing the number of Palestine refugees forced to pay out-of-pocket for the diagnosis and care of cardiovascular diseases at non-UNRWA facilities.

In his address during the signing ceremony, Mr Lombardo thanked Monaco, saying: "This generous donation by the Principality of Monaco is all the more poignant in the light of the socio-economic survey we recently completed with the American University of Beirut (AUB), which highlights the vicious cycle in which the poorest of Palestine refugees are caught: lowest income, poorest diet, highest cardiovascular disease. The resources provided by Monaco will enable us to address these problems: better trained and equipped staff offering enhanced diagnosis and treatment services to the refugees who need it most."

On Sunday 16 January, the press team accompanying the Prince visited Burj Barajneh camp in Beirut and interviewed refugee patients and UNRWA officials in the camp to shed light on the living conditions of Palestinians in Lebanon.

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$ 70.5 million.

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