UN calls for $55 million to help refugees from camp in northern Lebanon

UN calls for $55 million to help refugees from camp in northern Lebanon

Nahr el-Bared refugee camp
The United Nations agency tasked with helping Palestinian refugees appealed today for $55 million to fund the first year of emergency assistance to refugees from the Nahr el-Bared camp in northern Lebanon, which was badly damaged during months of intense combat between the Lebanese army and Fatah el-Islam gunmen.

Karen AbuZayd, the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said in Beirut that the funds will be used to provide shelter and support to host families, temporary jobs, infrastructure such as clean water and sanitation, and basic services, including health care, education and humanitarian assistance.

The appeal is designed to cover the emergency needs of the residents of the refugee camp, former and current, and to plan for their full and safe return of those displaced by the fighting.

Earlier this month the Lebanese army announced that it had seized full control of Nahr el-Bared from the Fatah el-Islam gunmen group, which it began fighting in May, forcing most of the camp’s estimated 31,000 residents, including about 8,000 classified by UNRWA as special hardship cases, to flee to the nearby Beddawi camp and other areas.

UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Geir O. Pedersen told a donor meeting for Nahr el-Bared, being held in Beirut, that “thousands of displaced Palestinian and Lebanese civilians” now depend on the support of the international community to restart their lives.

“We, the United Nations, will continue to assist and support the people affected by the conflict to the best of our ability,” he said, adding later that “we count on the continued support of the international donor community to ensure that the recovery and reconstruction phase will move forward rapidly and effectively.”

In his statement, Mr. Pedersen voiced the UN’s support “to the Lebanese Government, the army, the Lebanese people and the Palestinian refugees and the PLO for the courage, determination and unity with which they have faced and overcome the challenges posed by the criminal aggression of Fatah el-Islam.”

The relief effort will be led by UNRWA, but the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) will also assist, as will the Lebanese health ministry and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs).