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Secretary-General’s press remarks at Nahr el-Bared camp
I am standing here in Nahr el-Bared camp. I have been working [on this issue] since 2007 when I took over my job as Secretary-General. This has been one of the top priorities for me, working together with the then Prime Minister Siniora.
Now after nine years, well, I’m seeing that almost half of the reconstruction has been made, but still there are so many people waiting to return to their homes. I just met some family members. The lady was crying; I tried to sympathize and console her, but no words can satisfy her, and no words [are enough]. I am very sad.
I have been urging the international community to provide the necessary funding. UNRWA has been working very hard. UNICEF has also been trying to provide support for young people.
Last month in London, there was the international conference convened by the United Nations and the Governments of the United Kingdom, [Germany], Norway and Kuwait. We were able to mobilize a significant amount of funding: for this year, more than US$ 5.5 billion and for a multi-year US$ 11.5 billion. Pledges from the international community [were also made] to provide funding for the Nahr el-Bared camp reconstruction, and I fully support this.
We have about 45 per cent of funding down. I am urging the international community to provide remaining funding, at least US$ 200 million, so that these people can return. It has been too long overdue – it’s been over nine years.
We are going to have a World Humanitarian Summit meeting in Istanbul in May and that will be one of the top priorities so we can help promote [support to] these refugees and the Sustainable Development Goals which were adopted in September last year.
The main thing is that nobody should be left behind, everybody should work together and the people who are suffering should not be left alone. That is my firm commitment and I will continue to work with Lebanese leaders and people.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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