Italian Minister for International Cooperation and Integration meets Palestine refugees displaced from Syria

15 April 2013

13 April 2013

The Italian Minister for International Cooperation and Integration, Andrea Riccardi, has visited Shatila refugee camp near Beirut to meet with Palestine refugees displaced from Syria and witness first-hand their difficult living conditions.

On a tour of the camp, Minister Riccardi met with Palestine refugee families who have fled the on-going violence in Syria. The families talked about the displacement and suffering they have experienced as a result of the conflict. They described the challenges they face as second-time refugees in Lebanon, especially housing requirements and the lack of affordable basic necessities.

Minister Riccardi was accompanied by the Italian Ambassador to Lebanon, H.E Giuseppe Morabito, the Director of the Italian Cooperation Office in Lebanon, Guido Benevento, and UNRWA’s Director of Operations in Lebanon, Ann Dismorr.

Ann Dismorr thanked the visitors for the support provided to the refugees by the government and people of Italy, saying: “We are very thankful for Italy’s continued support for Palestine refugees in Lebanon. Today’s visit is very important in highlighting the situation of Palestine refugees who have fled from Syria to Lebanon.

“The urgency of responding to their vulnerable situation and providing them with assistance cannot be over-emphasised.”

Italy has been especially active in supporting the health sector and sports activities for Palestine refugees in Lebanon. In particular, it has been a pioneer in supporting reforms currently being undertaken by UNRWA to improve health care coverage. In 2012, Italy contributed EUR 1 million to support UNRWA’s health reform efforts in Lebanon. Italy remains the leading contributor to that reform effort.

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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Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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