High level donor delegation visits Lebanon camps
A high level delegation representing UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) donor countries and the Agency’s Advisory Commission members visited Lebanon camps on 20 and 21 November. They were briefed by UNRWA officials on progress made in response to Nahr el-Bared crisis as well on the Camp Improvement Initiative underway in other camps.
The two-day visit provided an opportunity for donors to see first hand the deteriorating infrastructure and the harsh living conditions of refugees. The delegation visited Shatila and Bourj Barajneh camp where they were briefed about the progress achieved on the Camp Improvement Initiative projects and the future challenges ahead. On the second day the delegation visited Palestinian Refugees gatherings in South Lebanon. They were also briefed on progress made regarding the Nahr el-Bared crisis and the funding status.
During this donors' visit, UNRWA stressed on the need to provide funding for the relief and recovery assistance granted to Nahr el-Bared displaced persons pending the reconstruction of the camp. Both the Agency’s Relief and Early Recovery Appeal launched in September of this year and the Reconstruction appeal itself remains under-funded. UNRWA expressed confidence that all donors, Arab donors included, will come forth and support UNRWA's reconstruction and early recovery activities.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) had started in October of this year, through support from UNDP, the clearing of the rubble from the camp of Nahr el-Bared destroyed last year. The reconstruction of the first part is expected to start in January 2009. The total reconstruction is expected to be completed within the next three years.
Some 4.6 million Palestine refugees in UNRWA’s five fields of operations – Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – are eligible for Agency services, including education, healthcare, social services, shelter, micro-credit loans and emergency aid. UNRWA employs nearly 30,000 staff, the vast majority of whom are Palestine refugees. UNRWA’s operations are financed almost entirely by voluntary contributions from donors. The Agency’s regular budget for 2008-2009 is $1.1 billion, which covers the recurrent costs of the Agency’s education, health and relief and social services activities.
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