UN's appeal aims to ensure that thousands of Palestinian refugee families live in dignity and that Palestinian children don’t lose their future, says Lebanon’s UN humanitarian coordinator Najat Rochdi.
A UN agency has appealed to the international community to donate tens of millions of dollars to help improve living conditions for Palestinians in crisis-hit Lebanon.
Wednesday's appeal by the agency for Palestinian refugees, or UNRWA, is asking for an additional $87.5 million is to provide Palestinian refugees with cash assistance to the poorest, cover hospital expenses, as well as transportation for children so that they can go to school.
UNRWA said more than 210,000 Palestinian refugees are among the most vulnerable and that some basic commodities have become out of reach for many as Lebanon sinks deeper into the economic meltdown.
It added that more than 58 percent of Palestinian refugees here have reduced the numbers of meals they eat every day.
Palestinian refugee Hiam Habib said UNRWA’s assistance was dropping while everything becomes so much more expensive.
“We urge UNRWA to find solutions for us otherwise I will end up with my family in the street,” she said, sitting next to an electric heater, turned on to minimum power because it was working on a neighbourhood’s private generator.
About 400,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants mostly live in a dozen refugee camps in Lebanon, set up for those who fled or were pushed out during fighting surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948.
An additional 27,000 Palestinians fled from Syria over the past decade during its deadly civil war.
The Palestinians in Lebanon are prohibited from working in professional jobs, have few legal protections and cannot own property.
Lebanon’s economic crisis
Lebanon’s crisis erupted in October 2019, rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement by the ruling class.
It has left tens of thousands of people jobless, and nearly 80 percent of the country’s population of 6 million, including about 1.5 million Syrian and Palestinian refugees, live in poverty.
The Lebanese pound has lost more than 90 percent of its value, wiping out the purchasing power of middle class and low-income families.
The resumption of US support for the agency last year - which had been halted by the Trump administration - was offset by a reduction in funding by other donors, UNRWA’s head Philippe Lazzarini said in November.
Claudio Cordone, director of UNRWA Affairs, Lebanon, said that UNRWA is struggling to ensure funding and needs the international community to match their political commitment to UNRWA.
Lebanon’s UN humanitarian coordinator, Najat Rochdi said tensions are growing as families increase the pressure on the agency to deliver regular services, as well as increase the relief assistance amid a sharp devaluation of the Lebanese pound.