Palestinian school children at a refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. (Wikimedia Commons)
Palestinian refugees in Lebanon held on Friday a rally outside of UNRWA offices in Sidon, Tripoli, Central AlBekaa, and Beirut to protest the Agency’s decision to reduce cash aid for refugee families.
The protesters strongly condemned the decision which they said is a sign of apathy regarding the abject humanitarian condition already endured by the Palestinian refugee community in displacement camps across the Lebanese territories.
They added that the decision is also a serious breach of UNRWA’s humanitarian mission as mandated by the UN and the Agency’s promise to assist Palestinian refugees in its five fields of operation, including Lebanon.
The protests culminated in a memorandum to the Director-General of UNRWA operations in Lebanon, Claudio Cordone.
Last week, UNRWA said in a statement that starting 2022, multi-purpose monthly cash grants of 100 USD to every registered Palestinian refugee family from Syria (PRS) will be reduced to 25 USD per person.
The Agency also said every PRS will receive an additional cash grant of 150 USD two times a year. UNRWA will suspend its food allowances for PRS in Lebanon.
The new measures will be put into effect as of January 1, 2022.
Palestinian refugees have expressed their shock at the decision, saying UNRWA cash aid is a lifeline for them.
At the same time, a number of NGOs leveled heavy criticism at the Agency. THABIT Organization for Right of Return strongly condemned the decision and urged the Agency to backtrack on the new measures which it said would result in further despair for PRS.
In a statement issued on Thursday, THABIT said UNRWA should have rather increased its financial grants for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, in light of the dire socio-economic conditions inflicted by the crash of the Lebanese pound and the dramatic price leap.
THABIT urged UNRWA to seek more donors for its annual budget in order to keep up its services for vulnerable Palestinian refugees.
The organization also urged Palestinian political factions and CSOs in Lebanon to pressurize UNRWA to cancel the new decision and save the Palestinian refugee community in Lebanon.