The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said it is extremely alarmed by the rapid deterioration of the situation in Lebanon and its effects on Palestine refugees.
Between the economic and financial meltdown, COVID-19, the disastrous impact of the Beirut Port explosion, and as the country plunges deeper into multiple crises, Palestine refugees, one of Lebanon’s most vulnerable communities, struggle ever harder to survive, UNRWA said in a statement.
The crises that have accumulated since 2019 have affected all segments of society in Lebanon, drastically impacting the access of refugees in general – and Palestine refugees in particular – to sources of livelihood. The unprecedented depreciation of the local currency has slashed the purchasing power of Palestine refugees as prices continue to increase dramatically, with inflation surpassing 100 percent. Poverty rates are soaring amongst vulnerable communities, including Palestine refugees.
“While the international community and aid agencies struggle to fill the unprecedented needs in Lebanon, which is now witnessing an acute shortage of fuel and goods, it is crucial to give adequate attention to the extremely dire conditions that most Palestine refugees in Lebanon live in, including Palestine refugees who have escaped the armed conflict in Syria,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.
UNRWA remains the main provider of basic services, such as health, education and camp improvement to over 210,000 Palestine refugees present in Lebanon. These include about 28,000 Palestine refugees from Syria.
A recent briefing paper by the Lebanon Humanitarian INGO Forum gave a very somber description of the hardship that Palestine refugees face in Lebanon, describing them as “slipping through the cracks” of the service system in the country, despite the availability of UNRWA basic services to them. Surveys conducted lately by UNRWA confirm that employment opportunities, including as daily paid workers, of Palestine refugees in Lebanon have become almost inexistent and that almost all Palestine refugees are living below the poverty line.
As the UN and the broader aid community in Lebanon are stretched to the limits in its attempts to support the people of Lebanon, UNRWA called on donors to support the response to the most urgent needs of Palestine refugees. These include cash assistance, increased coverage for health and medical services and ensuring that Palestine refugee children in Lebanon go back to school.
“The situation in Palestine refugee camps is highly volatile and young people in particular report a level hopelessness that leaves few prospects for a dignified life,” said Lazzarini. “It is extremely urgent to ensure adequate support to UNRWA to help ease the extreme vulnerability that Palestine refugees in Lebanon are in.”