EU Supports Nahr el-Bared Reconstruction
On 11 November 2013, the European Union (EU) signed an agreement with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), under which the EU will provide EUR 12 million (US$ 16.3 million) towards the reconstruction of the Palestine refugee camp of Nahr el-Bared, in North Lebanon.
This generous donation will support the reconstruction of 382 residential units, making it possible for approximately 1,700 residents to return to live in the camp. In addition, 68 commercial units will be reconstructed, contributing to the renewal of commercial life within Nahr el-Bared. It is anticipated that the units, which are located in Package 4 and Package 5 of the camp, will be completed by mid-2015.
In 2007, clashes between Fatah al-Islam and the Lebanese Armed Forces in forced over 6,000 refugee families – a total of nearly 26,000 registered Palestine refugees and over 1,000 Lebanese residents of the camp – to abandon Nahr el-Bared, leaving behind homes and livelihoods. Following the end of the conflict, the Government of Lebanon and the international community committed to rebuilding the destroyed camp. UNRWA was charged with leading the relief and reconstruction effort and set out to rebuild the camp.
The reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared camp is the largest single project the Agency has ever undertaken. Of an estimated cost of US$ 345 million, UNRWA has, to date, raised US$ 188 million in donations from the international community. This has enabled it to oversee the completion of one quarter of the approximately 5,000 residential units that will eventually be provided while continuing to seek the remaining US$ 157 million needed to complete the reconstruction project.
The new donation from the EU, through its Instrument for Stability measure, represents a significant contribution to the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared and the rebuilding of the community.
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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