UNRWA continues to respond to urgent needs of displaced families forced to flee Ein El-Hilweh camp in southern Lebanon, the largest in the country. Ein El Hilweh camp is the largest Palestine refugee camp in Lebanon, hosting nearly 55,000 registered Palestine refugees.
The ongoing conflict dynamics are grounded in decades of structural discrimination of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, which prevent them from exiting a poverty cycle that is specific to their refugee status. They are barred from accessing the labor market of white-collar jobs and from acquiring immovable property. At the same time, recurrent displacement, destruction of camps and the effects of inter-generationally transmitted trauma and re-traumatization have left this population exhausted and antagonized.
This situation coalesces with the ongoing economic crisis in Lebanon, resulting in dramatic impacts on the living conditions of Palestine refugees, exacerbating their vulnerabilities and compounding existing challenges. Palestine refugee families struggle to afford necessities such as food, medication and electricity. Palestinian camps are also characterized as being isolated and segregated from their social and economic environment, which contributes to high rates of localized poverty and social marinization.
In reference to the situation at the Ein El Hilweh Camp, Dorothee Klaus, the Directory of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, stated “Families have lost everything… Some have run for safety only with their clothes on them. They need food, health care and support for their mental health. It is just devastating that history repeats itself as many families have lived through this horror multiple times”.
Accordingly, UNRWA prioritizes actions that respond to the specific crisis in Ein El Hilweh. In this appeal, the agency also draws attention to other urgent, unmet needs outlined in its 2023 Emergency Appeal. Together, these two appeals are designed to address the immediate humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees and build their resilience to allow them to better cope with the current crisis.
UNRWA is providing a package of assistance including the delivery of warm meals, health care, clothes, mattresses, hygiene kits, baby items and psychosocial support, including group counseling and stress management.
Within this Appeal, UNRWA aims to respond to the crisis in Ein El Hilweh by ensuring that:
- The right to quality education and psychosocial support is safeguarded.
- UNRWA recognizes that equal and inclusive access to education is a basic human right that should be sustained, even during emergencies. Securing and preparing alternative safe schooling spaces outside the camp are high priorities for ensuring that girls and boys have their right to quality education protected.
- Access to safe shelter is sustained through one-off cash assistance for persons whose shelters have become uninhabitable.
- Cash assistance will be offered as a one-time payment to support families with uninhabitable houses. This will be in the form of US $1,200 per family to cover approximately six months of expenditure.
- Access to basic public and social infrastructure, including schools and water networks, is protected.
- UNRWA will rehabilitate and repair damaged installations to restore access to life-sustaining services. This will mean the use of alternate building materials with improved specifications, the application of energy-saving approaches, and addressing accessibility issues.
- Vulnerable families in the affected area are supported through cash assistance.
- Cash support will be distributed to 59,775 vulnerable Palestine refugees, 55% of whom are children. Both Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Syrian refugees living in conflict-affected areas, including the camp, will be targeted.