Hitting Rock Bottom- Palestine Refugees in Lebanon risk their lives in search of dignity

21 October 2022
 Palestine refugees on the busy Abo Alfoz Street in Beddawi Palestine refugee camp in northern Lebanon. © 2022 UNRWA Photo by Maysoun Mustafa

Poverty rates reach 93 per cent,
UNRWA urgently appeals for US$ 13 Million to provide much needed assistance 

From UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini  

Download multimedia material here 

Hear their voices: Palestine refugees send to UNRWA voice memos


“In Lebanon, an increasing number of Palestine refugees tell UNRWA that “anything” is better than their lives today.  As the world is looking elsewhere, Palestine refugees continue to take dangerous risks in search of a better life.

“Unprecedented levels of poverty, skyrocketing unemployment rates and increasing despair are spreading across the country, severely hitting the Lebanese people and Syrian and Palestine refugees. This comes amid one of the worst economic crises in recent history, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, poor governance and an almost total collapse in basic services. Palestine refugees, living in overcrowded camps and marginalized by discriminatory policies, are historically one of the poorest people in the country. They are at the end of their rope.  

“Almost every Palestine refugee in Lebanon lives in poverty.  The average cost of the food basket has increased six-fold in the last year one of the highest increases the world has recorded this year. The cost of water, fuel, electricity, gas, transport and health care is now three to five times higher. Medicines are increasingly unavailable on the market and families are unable to afford them since government subsidies have been lifted. Too many Palestine refugee families are no longer able to afford secondary health care. Some are skipping lifesaving treatment to avoid accumulating debts.  

“Iman, a mother of three, living in Mar Elias camp told UNRWA: "Dying from poverty will not be much different from dying at sea. Life in Lebanon has become unbearable with one crisis after another. Youth are those seeking to emigrate to escape this reality though entire families are now selling everything and risking their lives just to have a decent life.”  

“While UNRWA has been helping, providing cash assistance and other basic services, our assistance is a drop in an ocean of despair. With our emergency humanitarian appeal heavily underfunded, Palestine refugees are often unable to even scrape by.  Much more is immediately needed to avert more tragedies unfolding. 

“The time to act is now. We must take collective responsibility, lend a hand to Lebanon to help pull people back from the brink.   

“UNRWA is urgently appealing for US$ 13 million for Palestine refugees in Lebanon. This will enable the Agency to provide much-needed cash assistance to families, continue running primary health care services and provide supplies for the coming winter by end of the year”. 




Notes to Editors  

  • Some 210,000 Palestine refugees (180,000 Palestine refugees from Lebanon and 30,000 Palestine refugees from Syria) live in 12 official refugee camps, and outside the camps in overcrowded living conditions.  
  • According to the latest UNRWA survey, 93 per cent of all Palestine refugees in Lebanon are poor.  
  • According to WHO, Lebanon recorded 18 cases of cholera this month and two probable deaths. This is the first cholera outbreak in Lebanon since 1993.
  • Palestine refugees in Lebanon are banned from 39 professions, including in the areas of general medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, occupational therapy, and law, among others.  
  • Security conditions in some of the camps have deteriorated over the years. There has been an increase in violence and use of arms. Many refugees have resorted to negative coping mechanisms, including the use of drugs.
  • The majority of those attempting to migrate by informal routes are from the Beddawi and Nahr el-Bared Palestine refugee camps in northern Lebanon. 
  • Latest Tragedy at Sea Off Syria Must Prompt Action: Joint Statement IOM, UNHCR and UNRWA, September 2022
  • In Lebanon, UNRWA provides education to over 39,000 Palestine child refugees.
  • UNRWA registers over 550,000 patient visits every year in its 27 health-care facilities in Lebanon. 
  • Overall, UNRWA reached 162,000 Palestine refugees with cash assistance this year. 
Background Information: 

UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

The United Nations General Assembly established UNRWA in 1949 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

UNRWA operates in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, The Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. 

Tens of thousands of Palestine refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods due to  the 1948 conflict continue to be displaced and in need of support, nearly 75 years on.

UNRWA helps Palestine Refugees achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.


For more information, please contact: