The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN agency assisting “Palestinian refugees”, on Thursday called for more support to help the organization assist vulnerable families amid the deteriorating financial situation in Lebanon.
UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini was quoted by the Xinhua news agency as saying that "the humanitarian situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is extremely alarming."
His remarks came at the end of his trip to Lebanon where he visited refugee camps and held meetings with Lebanese and Palestinian Arab officials to discuss the poor situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
"People in Lebanon, among them Palestine refugees, are suffering and paying the price for something not of their making. I met with Palestinian refugees during my visit who are completely ravished by poverty, despair, and lack of prospect," Lazzarini said, according to Xinhua.
He stressed the harsh living conditions in Lebanon amid a rise in poverty and unemployment, worsened by the spread of cholera.
He noted that the UNRWA call for international help to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon last month prompted Germany to contribute 6 million US dollars, enabling the organization to distribute cash to the most vulnerable Palestinian families ahead of the winter.
"While this is welcome, it's only the tip of the iceberg. People in Lebanon need and deserve a better life far from dependence on humanitarian and cash assistance. It is a nation known for its creativity, generosity, and love of life against all odds," Lazzarini said.
Lebanese residents who are registered as “Palestinian refugees” and their descendants who were born in that country reside in residential neighborhoods known as "refugee camps", have limited work options and are refused citizenship.
Lebanon refuses to naturalize the “Palestinian refugees” and has stressed the need to work for their return to their country of origin, which Palestinian Arabs claim is Israel.
Several years ago, Lebanese authorities launched a crackdown on foreign workers, including people registered as “Palestinian refugees”.
UNRWA, created in 1949, supplies aid to more than three million of the five million registered “Palestinian refugees” in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and territories assigned to the Palestinian Authority.
The agency relies on donations from countries around the world. The US, which has long been one of the main supporters of UNRWA, cut a full $300 million in funding to the agency in 2018, when Donald Trump was President.
The Biden administration has announced it intends to resume aid to UNRWA as well as other aid to the Palestinian Authority which was suspended by the Trump administration.
UNRWA, in addition to its activities for “Palestinian refugees”, is also notorious for its anti-Israel activities. During the 2014 counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge, Hamas rockets were discovered inside a school building run by UNRWA.
More recently, a UN Watch report revealed that more than 100 of UNRWA’s educators and staff have publicly promoted anti-Semitism and violence on social media, and that on numerous occasions the agency has failed to dismiss teachers who incited such hate.