Grandi Praises Lebanese Government’s Commitment

02 March 2010

18 February 2010


UNRWA’s newly appointed Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi visited Lebanon from 16 to 18 February, accompanied by his new deputy, Margot Ellis. Prior to his appointment, Mr Grandi served as UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General for five years.

This was Mr Grandi’s first visit to Lebanon as UNRWA Commissioner-General, during which he met Lebanese officials including the president of the Lebanese Republic, the prime minister, the minister of foreign affairs and the chief of the army, as well as representatives of donors, UN officials and Palestinian officials in Lebanon.

During his visit, Mr Grandi also had a general meeting with UNRWA staff, and briefed them about the priorities of the Agency for the coming three years. He then toured Burj Barajneh camp in Beirut, where he was briefed about the progress of works in the infrastructure project funded by the European Union in the camp. He also had lunch with the elderly in Burj Barajneh’s active ageing house.

At the end of his visit, Mr Grandi praised the commitment of the Lebanese government to improve the living conditions of the Palestine refugees in Lebanon, stressing that improving the conditions of refugees does not mean their naturalisation in Lebanon. He also thanked the efforts by prime minister Hariri in helping UNRWA raise funds for the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared camp.

Mr Grandi highlighted the financial challenges facing UNRWA, with a shortage of US$100 million in the general fund to run the usual services. On this occasion, he thanked UNRWA’s generous donors and urged them to donate more to the Agency’s general fund.

Background Information

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 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank 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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