(New York: 13 June 2007): The United Nations has approved $5.7 million in grants from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for the United Nations agencies responding to the crisis in Lebanon.
"For more than three weeks now, we have watched as innocent civilians - members of an already vulnerable refugee population - have suffered due to the violent clashes in and around Nahr El Bared refugee camp," said John Holmes, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. "While we deplore the continued violence, which once more threatens to engulf more than one part of the Middle East, we must also hasten to bring urgently needed aid to those who are suffering," he stressed.
As the lead among United Nations agencies responding to the crisis, the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) launched a three-month $12.7 million Flash Appeal on 4 June 2007 to address the urgent needs of the thousands of Palestinian refugees displaced by fighting in and around Nahr El Bared refugee camp. The CERF funds will be directed to the priority areas of food, shelter and household supplies, water and sanitation, health care, education, and protection, identified by the country team.
The agencies receiving CERF funds include UNRWA, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (DSS), which are working in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), and other humanitarian agencies.
To date, more than 30,000 people have left Nahr El Bared camp and the surrounding area, according to UNRWA, with most of the Palestinian refugees seeking shelter in nearby Beddawi camp. As a result, the population of Beddawi camp has risen from 16,000 to over 37,000 persons, further stretching already overcrowded living conditions. The majority of the displaced arrived with few belongings or resources, and the Beddawi camp population's coping mechanisms have been strained hosting the new arrivals.
Meanwhile, as many as 3,000 Palestinians remain in Nahr El Bared camp and are facing a worsening situation. They lack sufficient supplies of food, medicine, water and electricity.
Among urgent needs, the Lebanon Flash Appeal prioritizes action in the areas of food, shelter and non-food relief supplies such as clothing, blankets and household goods. The Appeal also includes provisions for emergency health care, water and sanitation services, and protection, as well as a means to enable refugee students affected by the crisis to take public examinations.
The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs manages the CERF on behalf of the Secretary-General and makes disbursements from the Fund on the basis of requests submitted by the humanitarian or resident coordinators in countries affected by emergencies.
For further information, please call: Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 917 892 1679; Kristen Knutson, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 9262; Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, +41 22 917 2653, mobile, +41 79 473 4570.OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org or www.reliefweb.int.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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