Lack of funds forces UNRWA to suspend cash assistance for housing for Palestine refugees from Syria in Lebanon

22 May 2015
Nov. 27, 2013, Beqaa Valley. © 2013 UNRWA Photo by Shafiq Fahed


UNRWA has been forced to suspend monthly cash assistance for housing to Palestine refugees from Syria (PRS) living in Lebanon. Starting July 2015, more than 43,000 Palestine refugees from Syria in Lebanon who receive monthly cash assistance of US$ 100 per family towards housing and US$ 27 per person towards food will stop receiving the cash assistance for housing.

While some funds remain for UNRWA to continue cash assistance for food over the next few months, the Agency has exhausted all funding to support housing assistance for PRS families. 

“This assistance is the main source of income for over 95 per cent of those refugees who have little access to livelihood opportunities or any public services,” said UNRWA Director in Lebanon Matthias Schmale. “Among all the refugees fleeing Syria to Lebanon, Palestinian refugees are particularly vulnerable, as they have very few alternatives for service provision and suffer from restrictions on their access to the job market. Moreover, because of their uncertain legal status, they are at risk of detention, abuse and deportation. The suspension of the housing assistance will be disastrous for this already vulnerable community.”

Mr. Schmale appealed to the donor community to mobilize resources to protect Palestinians from Syria in Lebanon from unacceptable risks. “Faced with the reduction in humanitarian assistance, the living conditions of the Palestine refugees from Syria are likely to become even more volatile.  We might see more and more Palestine refugees fleeing this harsh reality and trying to make their way across the Mediterranean to reach Europe. I appeal to the international community to enable UNRWA to provide the bare minimum assistance so the Palestine refugees can live in dignity while they await a just solution for their plight.”

UNRWA continues to work closely with partners and UN Agencies to mobilize resources for a scaled-up humanitarian response in support of Palestine refugees from Syria in Lebanon as well as the Palestinian communities who were already in Lebanon before the Syria crisis. The agency has appealed to donors to increase support through its Call for Funds, seeking an immediate injection of US$ 30 million. The UNRWA Syria Crisis Appeal has received only 21 per cent of the funds needed for 2015 and chronic underfunding for humanitarian interventions in Syria continues to undermine the Agency's capacity to sustain life-saving emergency interventions.

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 5.4 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.

For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
Zizette Darkazally
Public Information Officer - Lebanon Field Office
+ 961 (0)1 840 490
+ 961 (0)1 830 400