The United Nations Agency for Works and Relief (UNRWA) is launching a nationwide winterization assistance plan, starting on 5 December, for Palestine refugees from Syria (PRS) who have recorded their details with the Agency in Lebanon. As of 29 November, 51,000 PRS have been recorded with UNRWA in Lebanon – a total of 15,000 families. All of them will be eligible for winterization assistance in one form or another, either from UNRWA or its partners.
Winterization assistance addresses the specific needs of refugee families during the cold winter months, for additional blankets, clothing and heating. The current multi-partner plan is especially targeted towards those who live in areas of high altitude (above 500 metres), in particular the Beqaa Valley, where winter temperatures frequently fall below freezing. Assistance will involve the provision of cash through the newly introduced UNRWA ATM card system, or in-kind support in the form of clothes, blankets, cooking stoves and fuel from UNRWA partners. The Agency will ensure that distribution to all families is according to the same criteria and in line with standards coordinated with the Office of High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Ann Dismorr, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, said: “The winterization assistance is targeted in order to address the needs of the PRS depending on their vulnerability. When it comes to winterization assistance, the families living in Beqaa are worst hit, because of the harsh winter conditions, where heating is a matter of survival. I have visited many of these families and seen the very basic accommodation too many of them have to live in. The issue of shelter for the refugees is still a major challenge for all of us and will remain so in the coming months.”
Ms. Dismorr thanked all UNRWA partners and donors whose generous contributions have made the winterization assistance possible. “We have the ambition to reach out to all PRS in Lebanon, and we encourage PRS who are staying in Lebanon but haven’t recorded their details with UNRWA to come forward and do so as soon as possible in order for us to be able assist them,” she said.
In the winterization plan, UNRWA is working with partners such as Caritas, the Danish Refugee Council, Nabaa, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam Novib, Terre des Hommes (Italy), Najdeh, Welfare Association, American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) and World Vision.
The plan is supported by generous UNRWA donors – the European Union Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection (ECHO); the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom; the Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM) of the US Department of State, the Australian Agency for International Development and the State of Kuwait. UNRWA sister agencies UNICEF and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) are also supporting the winterization assistance for PRS in Lebanon.