Beirut – Palestinian refugees arriving in Lebanon from Syria are facing harsh winter conditions in the northern Bekaa Valley, where whole families have little or no means of survival. Today, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Lebanon signed an agreement that will ensure that the ICRC’s winter assistance reaches the Palestine refugees living in the coldest areas of Lebanon. This is the first agreement of its kind between the two organizations.
“Some 2,000 Palestinian families live in very dire conditions, often in unfinished shelters with no insulation,” explained Fabrizzio Carboni, head of the ICRC delegation in Lebanon. “Their limited access to public services and the labour market makes them highly dependent on aid and host communities. The ICRC has therefore decided to enter into an exceptional agreement with UNRWA to secure much-needed assistance for these vulnerable refugees in the Bekaa region and areas higher than 500 metres above sea level.”
The Acting Director of UNRWA's Field Office in Lebanon, Heli Uusikyla, welcomed the continued cooperation between the ICRC and UNRWA and highlighted the importance of this exceptional agreement, which will ensure that Palestine refugees from Syria receive much needed winter assistance during the coming cold winter months.
The winter assistance will be provided in the form of cash, which is expected to be used mainly for fuel for heating, and a one-off sum that the Palestine refugees will be free to invest according to their priorities. The cash will be provided through UNRWA ATM cards, valid for a period of five months.
The ICRC has been present in Lebanon since 1967, where it responds to problems arising from past conflicts, helps refugees from Syria, and supports ICRC relief operations being conducted in Syria under its neutral and impartial humanitarian mandate. 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 five 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 services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
For further information, please contact:
Soaade Messoudi, ICRC Lebanon, tel: +961 71 802 876
Zizette Darkazally, UNRWA Public Information Office, Lebanon, tel: +961 1 840 468