UNRWA Commissioner-General visits Lebanon

12 October 2013
UNRWA Commissioner-General visits LebanonUNRWA Commissioner-General visits Lebanon

Beirut

UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi visited Lebanon on 10-11 October. Mr. Grandi discussed the Syria regional humanitarian crisis in meetings with the President of the Republic, the caretaker Prime Minister and other senior Lebanese officials and expressed appreciation for Lebanon’s support to UNRWA. He acknowledged that Lebanon is under tremendous pressure due to the huge influx of refugees from Syria. He encouraged the authorities to continue to recognise the grave humanitarian situation of Palestine refugees fleeing Syria and to apply equal treatment to all refugees at the border, including Palestinians.

Mr. Grandi, who during his visit met with Palestine refugee families from Syria in Burj Barajneh Camp, noted that UNRWA currently assists 48,000 Palestine refugees from Syria in Lebanon. He added that all of them have access to UNRWA's education, health and other services, and therefore do not represent an additional burden on Lebanon’s public services. Meanwhile, UNRWA continues to carry out its regular work in support of Palestine refugees registered in Lebanon and has recently enhanced the rehabilitation of shelters and infrastructure in several Palestine refugee camps.

In his meetings with the Lebanese authorities, donor representatives, the Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon and other Palestinian leaders, the Commissioner-General reiterated UNRWA’s strong commitment to completing the reconstruction of Nahr el Bared Camp and continuing to provide emergency relief assistance to those displaced from the camp.

Regarding the rebuilding of Nahr el Bared, the Commissioner-General said that UNRWA would soon launch new efforts to secure fresh funding to accelerate the reconstruction process. Regarding emergency relief assistance, Mr. Grandi said that he was encouraged by his constructive talks with Palestinian leaders. He explained that donor contributions towards this assistance programme had decreased and it was important to ensure that these scarce resources are of benefit to those in need. He added that discussions would resume shortly between UNRWA and community representatives on the effective utilization of the resources that are available. He stressed however that the repeated obstruction of UNRWA installations must cease so that all services to Palestine refugees throughout Lebanon can resume in full.

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.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0724

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