U.N. Special Coordinator, UNRWA Lebanon Director Visit Ain el-Hilweh

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The United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis, and the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Claudio Cordone, on Thursday visited the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh in southern Lebanon.

It was Kubis’ first visit to a Palestine refugee camp in Lebanon since taking up his functions as U.N. Special Coordinator in February.

Kubis was briefed by UNRWA representatives about the living conditions of Palestine refugees and the situation in the camp. Kubis and Cordone visited UNRWA’s Bissan and Sammouh schools and met with representatives of Palestinian factions and popular committees of Ain el-Hilweh and discussed with them the political, social and economic situation in the camp.

Kubis together with Cordone also met with a group of Palestine refugee youth from Lebanon and Syria to discuss “their aspiration and the socio-economic challenges they face, specifically those related to education and unemployment,” a statement issued by Kubis' office said.

“I am grateful for the hospitality and warm welcome I received today from the residents of Ain el-Hilweh and I commend the efforts of my UNRWA colleagues, who continue to provide essential services to the Palestine refugees in Lebanon despite the financial constraints that the agency continues to face,” Kubiš said.

He also welcomed cooperation between Lebanese authorities and Ain el-Hilweh representatives and underlined the importance of ongoing dialogue between the Lebanese and the Palestinians, saying: “Building mutual understanding and trust between the two communities remains key to improving livelihoods and preserving stability and security in Ain el-Hilweh and the neighboring areas.”

Moreover, Kubis pledged continued efforts to encourage international support for UNRWA to ensure that humanitarian needs are met.

Cordone for his part reiterated the Agency's commitment to implement its mandate on behalf of Palestine refugees.

He said: “Our support to Palestine refugees is key for the implementation of the rights and dignity of Palestine refugees until a just and lasting solution to their plight is achieved. We continue to count on the support of the whole U.N. family in achieving our goals.”

According to the U.N., 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 Program 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 Program Budget. UNRWA emergency programs and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals,” the statement issued by Kubis' office added.

SourceNaharnet