18 February 2010
UNRWA’s newly appointed Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi visited Lebanon from 16 to 18 February, accompanied by his new deputy, Margot Ellis. Prior to his appointment, Mr Grandi served as UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General for five years.
This was Mr Grandi’s first visit to Lebanon as UNRWA Commissioner-General, during which he met Lebanese officials including the president of the Lebanese Republic, the prime minister, the minister of foreign affairs and the chief of the army, as well as representatives of donors, UN officials and Palestinian officials in Lebanon.
During his visit, Mr Grandi also had a general meeting with UNRWA staff, and briefed them about the priorities of the Agency for the coming three years. He then toured Burj Barajneh camp in Beirut, where he was briefed about the progress of works in the infrastructure project funded by the European Union in the camp. He also had lunch with the elderly in Burj Barajneh’s active ageing house.
At the end of his visit, Mr Grandi praised the commitment of the Lebanese government to improve the living conditions of the Palestine refugees in Lebanon, stressing that improving the conditions of refugees does not mean their naturalisation in Lebanon. He also thanked the efforts by prime minister Hariri in helping UNRWA raise funds for the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared camp.
Mr Grandi highlighted the financial challenges facing UNRWA, with a shortage of US$100 million in the general fund to run the usual services. On this occasion, he thanked UNRWA’s generous donors and urged them to donate more to the Agency’s general fund.