UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini (right) visits Palestine refugee school children in their classroom in the UNRWA Yarmouk school in the camp during his visit to Lebanon in December 2021. © 2021 UNRWA Photo
The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Phillippe Lazzarini, just ended a three-day visit in Lebanon, where he met with UNRWA staff and refugees in Burj Barajneh camp in Beirut.
URNWA said in a press release that Lazzarini’s visit comes amid an unprecedented economic and financial crisis that is plunging the country deep into poverty. These events have a profound impact on Palestine refugees who are among the poorest segment of society. For decades they have faced restrictions on access to the labour market and property ownership.
“Refugees I met are utterly desperate and struggle to cover their basic needs,” said Lazzarini. “I met young graduates whose only hope for a better future is to emigrate. They know the prices of each migration route. I met parents who have nightmares about how they will afford to buy milk and diapers for their children the next day. The social fabric within the community is imploding, divorces are on the rise, as is gender-based violence. UNRWA staff are also encountering anger and resentment.”
“Today, I am raising the alarm and calling on the international community to ensure adequate support for UNRWA to ensure that those refugees continue receiving much needed assistance and have a dignified life,” he continued.
At the UNRWA Yarmouk School in the camp, Lazzarini met with representatives of the school parliament, the school parents’ association and school staff. All talked about the difficult conditions and challenges children face to continue their education. Many are dropping out of schools as they cannot afford transportation or have to help their families make a living.
UNRWA said that in January, it will launch an emergency appeal for Lebanon to alleviate the humanitarian impact of the situation in Lebanon on Palestine refugees. Cash assistance will remain a priority.
Lazzarini’s visit also included meetings with Prime Minister Najib Mikati, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Director of General Security and the Chair of the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee, the Palestinian Ambassador and representatives of Palestinian factions. He also met with NGOs working in the refugee camps. All shared the concern about the deteriorating situation in the camps and committed to support the Agency to sustain all services and alleviate the human suffering in the camps.