UNRWA to construct a cemetery for Palestine refugees through the support of Walid Joumblatt, CCC and the PLO

19 October 2009

19 October 2009

Beirut

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) today signed a lease agreement with H.E. Walid Joumblatt, Lebanese Member of Parliament and leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, for a 10000m2 land in Siblin to construct a cemetery for Palestine refugees in Lebanon. Mr. Joumblatt is providing the land for a nominal rent and has donated US$100,000  to the project.

During a signing ceremony held at UNRWA’s Siblin Training Center Mr. Salvatore Lombardo, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, also signed an agreement with H.E. Abbas Zaki, Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Lebanon, for administering the cemetery once it has been constructed. The PLO has provided US$150,000 to the project, while the Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) has also generously donated US$150,000 to the construction of the cemetery . The CCC was represented at the ceremony in Siblin by Mr. Said Khoury, company Chairman. The Government of Lebanon was represented today by Mr. Ziad Sayegh, from the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee.

After the signing ceremony the signatories, guests and media visited the site where the cemetery will be constructed, laying a symbolic foundation stone in one corner of the site.

Finding a location for Palestine refugees in Lebanon to bury their dead has been an important priority in recent years because of a lack of adequate space in those locations where Palestinians have traditionally put their loved ones to rest. However, as Mr. Lombardo noted during the ceremony, the current project could not have been accomplished without the initiative, generosity and support of MP Joumblatt.

UNRWA contributed US$100,000 to the project and has tendered the construction of the cemetery. It is hoped that work on the site will begin soon. Once constructed, the cemetery will be administered by the "Authority for the administration of cemeteries in Lebanon", under the supervision of the "Organization for the care of Martyrs Families & Injured in Lebanon" established by the Embassy of the State of Palestine in Lebanon.

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For more information please contact UNRWA Public Information Office in Lebanon:

Tel: 00961-1-840468
E-mail: h.elturk@unrwa.org

         

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.

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