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Families returning to refugee camp in northern Lebanon, says UN agency

Families returning to refugee camp in northern Lebanon, says UN agency

The United Nations agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees reports that displaced families are now returning to the camp in northern Lebanon that was the scene of months of hostilities earlier this year between the national army and Fatah el-Islam gunmen.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has already constructed 56 temporary shelters, including connections for water and electricity, for the returnees to Nahr el-Bared camp, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told journalists today.

The agency has also helped 3,000 families with rental subsidies and temporary accommodation.

The families are returning two months after the Lebanese army fully seized control of Nahr el-Bared after intense combat with Fatah el-Islam between May and the beginning of September. During the fighting most of the camp’s estimated population of 31,000 people were forced to flee to nearby camps and towns for safety.

UNRWA has appealed for $55 million to fund the first year of emergency assistance to the Nahr el-Bared refugees, with the money raised to be spent on providing 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 the full and safe return of those displaced by the fighting.

Meanwhile, Ms. Montas said that UNRWA remains concerned that fuel deliveries via the Nahel Oz pipeline into the Gaza Strip have been reduced.

The agency has warned that if this move is not reversed, it could have dire consequences for the 1.4 million Palestinians inside Gaza.