26 December 2012
German Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel visited Burj Barajneh Camp in Beirut on Saturday, accompanied by the
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Deputy Director and Officer-in-Charge of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon Robert Hurt.
Following the Minister’s tour in the camp and his observation of the bad living conditions of Palestine refugees, Mr. Niebel met with Palestinian families who fled the violence in Syria to Bourj Barajneh camp. The families described the effects of the conflict on their lives and the daily challenges they experience in Lebanon regarding housing and the high cost of living.
On this occasion, the German Minister said “I would like to offer my personal sympathy to those who have fled the violence and persecution they experienced at home in Syria and assure them the German government’s support. I am pleased that I am able to commit additional funding to improve the situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon today."
The Minister was briefed during the visit on UNRWA’s health reform and the impact of Germany’s recent donation for prevention and treatment of Thalassemia and Sickle-cell anemia amongst Palestinian Refugees.
Expressing UNRWA’s appreciation to Germany, Mr. Hurt said: “We are very thankful for Germany’s continued support to Palestine refugees in Lebanon. Today’s visit is very important in highlighting the situation of Palestine refugees from Syria who have fled to Lebanon. The urgency of responding to their vulnerable situation and providing them with assistance cannot be over-emphasised.”
Before coming to Lebanona, Mr. Niebel visited Gaza on 10 December, where he laid the foundation for a new UNRWA school.
Germany has contributed USD 43.5 million to UNRWA’s General Fund between 2007 and 2011, and USD 12.9 million for UNRWA Lebanon between 2007 and 2012. The German support to UNRWA in Lebanon includes funds for the prevention and treatment of Thalassemia and Sickle-cell anemia, hospital care and medications for refugee families from Nahr el Bared camp (NBC), NBC reconstruction and relief assistance, the establishment of a vocational training centre in North Lebanon Area, and a pilot camp improvement initiative in Rashidieh camp through the German Development Bank (KfW).
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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, microfinance and emergency assistance.
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, supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit.
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