EU Supports Shelter and Infrastructure Works in Ain el-Hilweh

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The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on Wednesday held a closing ceremony of infrastructure projects funded by the European Union at the Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp in Sidon.

It also celebrated the closure of complementary projects funded by other donors. The closing ceremony was held under the patronage of the Director of UNRWA Affairs, Claudio Cordone, and in the presence of the Head of the Delegation of the European to Lebanon, Ambassador Christina Lassen.

The EU contributed EUR10.5 million to rehabilitate shelters and a health center, as well as to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure in the camp.

“The EU support contributed to the improvement of infrastructure in Ain el-Hilweh, and to the reduction of the negative environmental effects of the deteriorated infrastructure systems, and directly improved the quality of life of refugees, as well as their health conditions,” said a statement issued by the EU Delegation to Lebanon.

The Saudi Fund for Development and Japan International Cooperation Agency also contributed around US$7 million and US$2 million respectively to infrastructure works in the camp. Before these contributions, and as a result of lack of funding, the infrastructure of the camp was neglected and the inhabitants were constantly suffering from water shortage, flooded streets during winter and dysfunctional sewage systems.

Speaking at the event, Cordone said: “This project is a testament to what can be achieved collectively in support of the Palestine refugees.”

“I was concerned to see the impact of the recurrent clashes in Ain el-Hilweh on civilians’ lives, their homes and especially on children. But UNRWA will continue to support them and stand by their side,” he added. The Director also thanked Ambassador Lassen for her presence during the event and the continuous support of the EU.

Lassen for her part showed her solidarity with the inhabitants of the camp who have “lived for months in an extremely difficult situation due to violence costing lives, injuries, displacement and destruction,” the EU Delegation statement said.

She pointed out that the European Union stands with them. She said: "As you know, for many years, the European Union has been supporting Palestine refugees in Lebanon. And we continue to do so. With Palestinians affected by the war in Syria seeking refuge in Lebanon, our support is needed more than ever. And that is why the European Union and its Member States, is the largest donor to UNRWA."

''Through the projects that we close now, more than 206 families had access to shelters, 8 health clinics were fully rehabilitated and furnished, and new water supply and drainage system have been completed,'' Lassen added.

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