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Hope for the future for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon

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One year after the end of the hostilities, the reconstruction of the Palestinian refugee camp Nahr Al Bared in northern Lebanon is underway. On 29 October the clearing-up operation began and a vocational training centre funded by Germany was officially handed over.

The rubble is being cleared: on 29 October, one year after the end of the hostilities involving the Palestinian refugee camp Nahr Al Bared in northern Lebanon, the diggers and clearing equipment of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) officially began the work which is intended to pave the way for the reconstruction of the camp from January 2009 onwards. This is a tangible sign that UNRWA, supported by the international community and in collaboration with the Lebanese Government, is shouldering its responsibility for the care of the Palestinian refugees.

The reconstruction of the completely destroyed camp, which housed 20,000 refugees, is a complicated decision for Lebanon. The Lebanese Government plans to design the new camp to serve as a model for other refugee camps in the country.

Bild vergrö=DFern Handing over of the vocational training centre funded by Germany (AA)

International assistance for reconstruction

Ambassador Khalil Makkawi, the Lebanese Prime Minister's envoy, stressed his Government's will to implement this decision reliably. Filippo Grandi, Deputy Commissioner-General of UNRWA, thanked the donors to date, who have made it possible to commence work - scheduled to last three years - by pledging some 120 million US dollars. He also called upon Arab states in particular to assume a share of the overall cost of 450 million US dollars. All the funds pledged for clearing the rubble so far - 10 million US dollars - were made available by the EU Commission.

Germany has pledged a total of more than 20 million euro for humanitarian assistance and the reconstruction of Nahr Al Bared. At the height of the crisis in 2007, Germany provided humanitarian aid, funded three temporary schools for the camps in the north and pledged financial support for a waste-water system for Nahr Al Bared camp and the surrounding Lebanese communities. At a donors conference on the reconstruction of Nahr Al Bared in June 2008, Germany pledged 6 million euro. Of this, two million euro are earmarked for the establishment and running over a three-year period of a vocational training centre for young Palestinians in northern Lebanon.

Vocational training centre offers hope for the future

It was possible to implement this commitment before the start of the new school year and the vocational school was officially handed over by the chargé d'affaires, Irene Plank, after the operation to clear the rubble had been launched. During the coming three years, 500 young Palestinians are to learn a trade in the vocational centre. They will use these skills to help rebuild the Nahr Al Bared camp, thus giving them prospects for the future.