Since the destruction of Nahr el Bared Camp (NBC), Northern Lebanon, in 2007, UNRWA has provided relief assistance to 27,000 displaced persons from the camp. This has included rental and food assistance and 100% health coverage for NBC displaced persons. As with other UNRWA activities, these services have been funded with voluntary contributions. Regrettably, it has been increasingly difficult to raise funds for the NBC relief services and currently there are no new funds committed by donors. The current relief budget shortfall stands at approximately USD 8.2 million.
Faced with the lack of funding, UNRWA must respond by prioritizing those services that have to be retained and identifying those that need to be reduced. Extensive consultations on the subject have taken place with leaders of the Palestinian community in Lebanon. As of 1 September 2013, UNRWA will harmonize health coverage for NBC displaced with the health coverage for all other Palestine refugees in Lebanon. Food assistance will also be harmonized, whereby the most vulnerable families will continue to receive assistance through UNRWA’s regular relief programme. The Agency is committed to protecting the rental assistance, especially to the neediest families that are still waiting for their homes to be rebuilt. However, this assistance is also subject to securing additional funds.
Meanwhile, the reconstruction of the camp continues and currently available funds are sufficient to continue the reconstruction until the end of 2014. As more homes are reconstructed and handed back to the displaced families, the reliance on the NBC relief services decreases and more normalcy is restored for the community. Currently, 51% of the reconstruction budget is funded, so UNRWA continues to seek funds for the reconstruction, including from non-traditional donors.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 58.5 million.
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