Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock Visits Palestinian and Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Today, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (USG/ERC), Mark Lowcock, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon, Philippe Lazzarini, the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Claudio Cordone and Head of OCHA Lebanon Nathalie Fustier, visited Burj Barajneh camp in Beirut where they witnessed firsthand the circumstances in which Palestinian and Syrian refugees are living.

The USG/ERC arrived in Lebanon following a mission to Syria where he met with governmental officials, humanitarian agencies and key stakeholders, and witnessed the suffering of those affected by the war. He was accompanied by Paola Emerson, the Chief of Middle East and North Africa Section and Sofie Karlsson, the Special Assistant to the USG.

The United Nations officials walked through the camp and saw the living conditions of refugees. They also met with a group of Palestinian and Syrian refugees who had the chance to voice their concerns to the delegation and highlighted their daily suffering and challenges since their displacement.

Mr. Cordone said: “UNRWA is committed to continue providing Palestine refugees with indispensable humanitarian services, and to advocating for the rights of Palestine refugees, especially those most vulnerable.”

Burj Barajneh camp was established in 1949 and is the largest Palestine refugee camp in the Beirut area and the second largest in the country. The camp also hosts non-Palestinian residents. The ongoing Syria crisis has contributed to an additional presence of Syrian refugees and Palestine refugees from Syria, resulting in increasing living costs and competition for employment. Some of the most distinctive features of Burj Barajneh are poor living conditions, overcrowding and substandard infrastructure.

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:
Huda Samra
Communications Advisor – Lebanon (Arabic and Francophone)
Mobile: +961 81 666 134