Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to benefit from new UN pact with UAE

16 March 2009

The United Nations agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees will be able to improve living conditions for thousands living in Lebanese camps thanks to a new partnership with the United Arab Emirates.

The United Arab Emirates Red Crescent (UAERC) is donating $6 million to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) under two new agreements signed today in Abu Dhabi.

As part of the agreements, $5 million will go to rehabilitating 343 of the most structurally unsound, hazardous and unhygienic shelters in Bourj El Shemali camp in South Lebanon.

The project is part of the Camp Improvement Initiative launched by the Lebanese Government and UNRWA in 2006 to improve the living conditions of Palestine refugees in Lebanon’s 12 refugee camps.

Another $1 million will enable UNRWA to construct 149 temporary housing units for Palestinian families who were displaced from the Nahr El Bared camp nearly two years ago.

The camp was basically a complete town of over 30,000 inhabitants before it was destroyed by intense fighting between the Lebanese national army and Fatah el-Islam gunmen between May and September 2007.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd welcomed both agreements, noting that much of the world’s attention recently has been on the situation of Palestine refugees in Gaza.

“However, we must not forget refugees elsewhere in the region who may be living in deplorable conditions,” she stated. “I am delighted that the donation of $6 million by our generous partners, the UAERC, will allow us to improve refugee housing in the Tyre area, and to provide more temporary housing for the displaced refugees of Nahr El Bared.”

A longstanding supporter of UNRWA, the UAERC has funded major construction projects including Khan Younis in Gaza, Jenin in the West Bank, and more recently Neirab in Aleppo, Syria.

UNRWA – which assists some 4.6 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – is financed almost entirely by voluntary contributions from donors and provides education, health and relief and social services.


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