Palestine Refugees in Lebanon fall further into abyss

24 November 2022
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini and Acting Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Munir Manneh meet with Palestine refugees living the worst economic crisis the country has ever witnessed. © 2022 UNRWA Photo


Germany gives US$ 6 million to UNRWA to respond to urgent and unprecedented needs among Palestine refugees in Lebanon 

From UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini


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BEIRUT, 24 November 2022 - “People in Lebanon, among them Palestine refugees, are suffering and paying the price for something not of their making. I met with Palestine refugees during my visit who are completely ravished by poverty, despair and lack of prospect.

“The humanitarian situation of Palestine refugees in Lebanon is extremely alarming. People are dying a slow death as many are unable to afford medicines or co-share the cost of treatment especially for chronic diseases and cancer. Levels of poverty and unemployment are unprecedented due to one of the worst economic crises in recent history. The spread of cholera is the latest tragic layer that adds to acute hardship and helplessness.

“While I walked on dark streets due to long power cuts, I wondered if Lebanon was at a point of no return.

“In the Beddawi Palestine refugee camp, north of Lebanon, I met Salim, who asked that I relay his call for help so that his family can survive this dark episode of the country’s economic freefall.

“Last month, I put out a plea on behalf of Palestine refugees highlighting the levels of despair they are living in. I asked the world to “Hear Their Voices” and act to help UNRWA help Palestine refugees with the bear minimum, to make ends meet and live in dignity.

“Heeding our call for urgent assistance, the Government of Germany generously contributed US$ 6 million for Palestine refugees in Lebanon.  With this support, UNRWA will be able to do a round of cash assistance distribution to the most vulnerable as they prepare for winter. This cash assistance also includes Palestine refugees from Syria who depend on monthly assistance from UNRWA to survive.

“While this is very welcome, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. People in Lebanon need and deserve to have a better life far from dependence on humanitarian and cash assistance. It is a nation known for its creativity, generosity and love of life against all odds.

“However, and until a more sustainable solution is found, UNRWA will continue to do everything possible to help Palestine refugees have a life of dignity. I call for further support to UNRWA so that we continue to assist families in need.”


-   ENDS   -


Notes to Editors

  • UNRWA will continue to fundraise to cover the remaining US$ 7 million to be able to provide more winterization support including in the Beka’a Valley where temperatures drop below zero (celsius), do another round of cash assistance and improve the cholera response to purify and pump water in the camps and increase awareness on prevention among the communities.   
  • 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.  
  • In October, the UNRWA Commissioner general issued a plea on behalf of Palestine refugees in Lebanon asking to protect and assist them.
    Hitting Rock Bottom, Palestine Refugees Risk their lives in search of Dignity
  • According to the latest UNRWA survey, 93 per cent of all Palestine refugees in Lebanon are poor.  
  • 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 across its 27 health centres 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.