Lebanon: ICRC and UNRWA join forces again to help Palestine refugees

16 December 2015

Beirut – Particularly vulnerable Palestine refugees from Syria in Lebanon will receive assistance to cope with the coming winter through a programme launched by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This collaboration follows the signing of a partnership agreement in November 2015.

This is already the second agreement of its kind between the ICRC and UNRWA. Last year, the two organizations provided assistance to some 2,000 families in the Bekaa Valley and areas higher than 500 metres above sea level.

"We have adjusted winter assistance criteria for Palestine refugees from Syria. Last year, we covered only those staying in high altitude areas where winter conditions are particularly harsh. This year, we will cover the most vulnerable across the country," explained Fabrizzio Carboni, head of the ICRC delegation in Lebanon. "These people are in dire straits. With their limited access to public services and the labour market, they are highly dependent on aid and host communities and find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. The coming winter will bring additional tribulations for those worst off, who have little or no means of survival."

"The living conditions of the Palestine refugees from Syria in Lebanon continue to deteriorate," said Matthias Schmale, UNRWA's director in Lebanon. "Thanks to the ongoing cooperation between the ICRC and UNRWA, the most vulnerable refugees will receive much-needed assistance throughout the cold winter months."

According to Mr Carboni, the plight of refugees is so dire after nearly five years of war in Syria that no organization can address it alone. It is therefore important to act together, complementing one another.

The winter assistance will be provided to over 2,120 families in the form of cash, which they will be free to spend on their most pressing needs. The cash will be provided through UNRWA ATM cards, valid for a period of five months. The ICRC has earmarked over 940,000 US dollars for this programme.

The ICRC has been working in Lebanon since 1967, where it tackles problems arising from past conflicts, helps Syrian refugees and the communities hosting them, and carries out other activities under its neutral and impartial humanitarian mandate, including in support of its relief operations in Syria. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and 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, the 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:
Tarek Wheibi, ICRC Beirut, tel: +961 70 153 928
Zizette Darkazally, UNRWA Beirut, tel: +961 70 010 129