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Moving forward on the Reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared Camp
Yesterday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) held in Beirut a workshop in Beirut on the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared Camp (NBC) convened by the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Claudio Cordone.
The workshop brought together representatives of the refugee community of NBC and other key stakeholders, including Lebanese and Palestinian officials and donors representatives. UNRWA senior coordinator for the NBC reconstruction project, Yvan Sturm, and his team presented the plans for the reconstruction, based on the available funds, and sought initial feedback from the participants. Further discussion will take place on the details of the reconstruction plans.
UNRWA also presented a way forward to complete the reconstruction of the entire camp, which remains subject to bridging the current budget gap of US$ 106 million. The representative of the General Directorate of Antiquities, Dr. Assaad Seif, explained the process adopted in order to preserve and document archaeological findings.
Cordone stressed that UNRWA remained fully committed to speeding up the reconstruction of NBC with available funding and to expand the number of donors in order to complete the work as quickly as possible. He acknowledged the dire conditions of many families awaiting return to NBC while reiterating UNRWA’s commitment to seek funds to enhance such assistance.
“The NBC project ultimately is about human beings and human dignity, not just buildings. We need to strengthen trust and work together in addressing all aspects of this project,” Cordone told the participants. Participants at the workshop also discussed how to improve communications among the different stakeholders and, in general, how to enhance a partnership approach. A number of proposals were discussed, which UNRWA and the other stakeholders will pursue further. They include regular newsletter and regular meetings with all relevant parties, as well as a body to work in partnership
Nahr el-Bared Camp
Nahr el-Bared camp was totally destroyed in 2007 leading to the displacement of over 27,000 Palestine refugees. Since then, with the support of the Lebanese Government and the international donor community, UNRWA has been engaged in its largest ever individual reconstruction project, with an estimated cost of US$ 345 million dollars. The reconstruction project is 54 per cent complete in spite of many challenges. Of the approximately 5,000 families who are registered to return, 2,641 families have received the keys to their newly reconstructed houses as of May 2017. In order to complete the reconstruction of NBC and allow the remaining families to return home, a funding gap of US$ 106 million would need to be filled.
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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