British charity Interpal has welcomed the announcement of the UK's Department for International Development (DfID) that it has agreed to give £1.5 million in new funding for UNRWA in response to the UN agency's appeal to provide urgent support for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
Generous as the donation is, however, the scale of the problem it is seeking to alleviate must be put into perspective. The funding is earmarked for the 35,000 refugees who had to flee the Nahr el-Bared Refugee Camp as a result of political violence in 2007. The camp was totally destroyed by the Lebanese Army seeking to flush-out an armed group who had taken refuge there. DfID's donation will provide rental subsidies to 3,436 families for two months and hospitalisation, as well as medicine cover, for 1,172 families for one month.
According to Interpal's Chairman, Ibrahim Hewitt, "These families are currently the most desperate, but over 425,000 Palestinian refugees are registered with UNRWA in Lebanon and most live in abject poverty and miserable conditions". They are, he said, the oft-forgotten people who need assistance and a permanent solution to their status as refugees. "Interpal, with the support of its donors, will continue to help Palestinians in need across Lebanon, Jordan, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip," he added.