United Nations Agencies and Palestinian Institutions Join Forces to Help Palestine Refugees Suffering from Kidney Disease in Northern Lebanon

Today, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), Taawon - Lebanon, Islamic Relief, the Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF) and the Health Care Society (HCS) inaugurated a new jointly-funded kidney dialysis unit in Beddawi camp to serve Palestine refugee patients.

The opening ceremony was attended by the Secretary-General of Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the North and the Representative of the Palestinian Embassy, Abou Jihad Fayyad; the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Welfare Association in Lebanon, Fouad Bawarchi; the Acting Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Hakam Shahwan; the President of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, Dr. Younes El Khatib; the Director of the Health Care Association, Bahija Mayassi; and the UNICEF Palestinian Programme’s Programme Specialist, Marta Petagna.

The new unit will offer free kidney dialysis treatment to more than 30 Palestine refugees in Lebanon (PRL) and Palestine refugees from Syria (PRS) in the north. Due to the high cost of treatment, many Palestine refugee patients residing in northern Lebanon were previously unable to afford visits to specialized units near their homes and had to travel regularly to Saida in southern Lebanon to receive treatment.

“The construction of the kidney dialysis unit is a huge accomplishment for all patients and their families in north Lebanon,” said 52-year-old Ibrahim Jaber, a kidney dialysis patient. “I personally have to get kidney dialysis treatment three times a week. Thanks to this unit, I can save around US$ 100 in transportation fees per month. I will also save myself from the physical exhaustion.”

The new unit includes seven kidney dialysis machines and one intensive care room equipped with the latest modern medical equipment, enabling the medical team to address any urgent situations for patients prior to transporting them to the hospital. In addition, the unit comprises one quarantine room for communicable diseases and one room for the treatment and filtering of water used for the dialysis process.

A medical team from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society will administer the unit. This team has undergone training that lasted more than six months at the American University Hospital in Beirut, Nini Hospital in Tripoli and Zgharta Hospital.

On behalf of Taawon - Lebanon, Mr. Bawarchi said: “We have committed ourselves since 1996 to furthering kidney dialysis operations at the Al-Hamshari Hospital in Saida. We are here today to commit to support this unit’s activities. This commitment reflects our objective to work towards the improvement of the conditions of Palestinians, while supporting Palestinian institutions.”

Representing UNRWA, Mr. Shahwan said “Today celebrates a true partnership to support the health of Palestine refugees in Lebanon. I would like to thank all colleagues, and I hope this partnership expands in the future. I trust that it will make a real impact in alleviating the suffering of kidney disease patients, like Mr. Jaber, in northern Lebanon”.

Overview of Taawon – Lebanon

Taawon – Lebanon is a non-profit independent institution. It was established in 1983 by a group of Palestinian businessmen and intellectuals in view of providing human development and support for Palestinians in the West Bank, including Jerusalem; the Gaza Strip; the 1948 territories and Palestine camps in Lebanon.

For further information, please contact:

Jihan Masri
Communication Officer
Taawon – Lebanon
Phone: +961 1850218
masrij@taawon.org

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information, please contact:

Soha Boustani
UNICEF Lebanon Country Office, Beirut
Phone: +961 3 236167
sboustani@unicef.org

Marta Petagna
UNICEF Lebanon Country Office, Beirut
Phone: +961 3 406565
mpetagna@unicef.org

Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
c.gunness@unrwa.org

Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724
s.mshasha@unrwa.org