STATEMENT FROM CHRIS GUNNESS, UNRWA SPOKESPERSON
UNRWA is concerned about the increased restrictions on Palestine refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria from entering Lebanon.
We are monitoring the situation on the border carefully and have been given assurances by the Lebanese authorities that these restrictions are temporary. We hope that they will be lifted within the next few days.
UNRWA is concerned about the deportation from Lebanon of 41 Palestine refugees back to Syria at the weekend. We recognize that Lebanon has given refuge to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the conflict in Syria, including about 50,000 Palestinians, and is in need of increased international assistance. However we underscore the position of the Security Council which has “affirmed the importance of the principle of non-refoulement” and “recalled its encouragement to countries neighbouring Syria to protect all people fleeing the violence in Syria, including Palestinians”.
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$ 68 million.
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