Rebuilding the Community Together: UNRWA and EU Hand over Newly-Built Houses to 93 Families in Nahr el-Bared Camp and Inaugurate the Next Phase of Reconstruction

03 October 2017
The Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, Ambassador Christina Lassen, and the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Claudio Cordone, hand over keys to Palestine refugee families to celebrate their return to Nahr el Bared camp, Lebanon. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Maysoun Mustafa

Today, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the European Union (EU) held a ceremony in Nahr el-Bared camp to mark the handing over of newly reconstructed houses to 93 returning families.

The ceremony highlighted the longstanding support of the EU and UNRWA to Palestine refugees displaced from Nahr el-Bared following the 2007 crisis. The Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, Ambassador Christina Lassen, and the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Claudio Cordone, handed over keys to the families to celebrate their return to Nahr el-Bared camp.

Thanks to the generous contribution of EUR 12 million from the EU, an overall number of 348 families returned and 81 retail units were built, and the social and economic prospects of the Palestinian community in the Nahr el-Bared camp were improved. 

Adnan Omar and his family are happy to finally receive the key to their house. Omar said: “It is a great day for us because we are going back home. We can finally have privacy. We are thankful to the EU for helping us to return to our house after a long time of waiting, suffering and displacement.” 

The EU and UNRWA also launched the next phase of the reconstruction works under a new project entitled “Further Support to the Reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared Camp” in the amount of EUR 12 million. This new contribution from the EU will enable the return of 360 families with the provision of furniture grants. In addition, 78 retail units will be rebuilt, thus helping further rejuvenate the economic activity in the camp. Additional funding will also be provided by EU Member States

Speaking at the event, Mr. Cordone thanked the EU for their ongoing support to Palestine refugees, and specifically for the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared.” "Without this support, hundreds of Palestine refugees would continue to live in unhealthy and inappropriate living conditions after 10 years of displacement. We all look forward to the day when all displaced families return to their new homes. UNRWA is committed to maximizing the speed of the reconstruction while always seeking to improve the living conditions of the refugees.” 

"Today we are handing over keys to the new apartments to 93 families that have been waiting for too long. Since 2007, these families had to endure very difficult living conditions. But all along they kept the hope alive that one day they would return to what they could call a home, away from home," Ambassador Lassen said. 

She added: "Our support does not stop here: today we are also visiting Nahr el-Bared to present a new future and to assure you of our enduring commitment to support Palestinian Refugees. Later today we will be visiting the areas where we will soon start the construction of additional housing units that will be delivered within the next 18 months through a dedicated fund worth EUR 12 million.”

EU and UNRWA: Together for Palestine Refugees

Since 1971, the European Union and UNRWA have maintained a strategic partnership governed by the shared objective to support the human development, humanitarian and protection needs of Palestine refugees and promote stability in the Middle East. Today, the European Union is the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees. This reliable and predictable support from the European Union enables UNRWA to provide core services to more than 5 million Palestine refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, including quality education for roughly half a million children and primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients. Collectively, the EU and its Member States are also among the largest contributors to the Agency’s humanitarian emergency appeals and projects in response to various crises and specific needs across the region. The partnership between the European Union and UNRWA has allowed millions of Palestine refugees to be better educated, live healthier lives, access employment opportunities and improve their living conditions, thus contributing to the development of the entire region.

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:

Huda Samra
Communications Advisor – Lebanon (Arabic and Francophone)
+961 81 666 134
Abdallah Chebly
EU Delegation to Lebanon Communication Officer
+961 71 522701
+961 (1) 569400 ext: 295
UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless campaign in Gaza on 22 January 2018. © 2018 UNRWA Photo Rushdi Al Saraj
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