Palestinian refugees in Lebanon protest UNRWA's decreased services, calling for the right of return
Hundreds of Palestinian refugees from various camps in Lebanon protested against the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in the capital Beirut on Tuesday, amid a continued decline in services provided by the cash-strapped UN agency.
They also called for their right to return to their homes in historic Palestine.
The protest was organised by the Joint Palestinian Action Authority in front of the Movenpick hotel in Beirut where an UNRWA Commissioner General, Philippe Lazzarini and the chairman of the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC) Bassel Al-Hassan were holding a joint press conference.
The protesters called on UNRWA to "assume its responsibilities", while expressing their rejection of any potential dissolution of UNRWA.
المعتصمون أمام مقر انعقاد مؤتمر اللجنة الاستشارية لـ #أونروا في #بيروت رفعوا مطالب معيشية وخدمية للاجئين.. وسط انتقادات شديدة لتوجهات المفوض العام للوكالة— بوابة اللاجئين الفلسطينيين (@refugeesps) June 14, 2022
إليكم التفاصيل ⬇️https://t.co/shd2GMyzi3 pic.twitter.com/2SEsEOIgs4
A number of Palestinians also demonstrated at the refugee camp in Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank.
The participants raised banners calling on UNRWA to continue its work, saying this guarantees "stability in the region", while other banners said "the only alternative to UNRWA is the right of return for Palestinian refugees".
The protesters demanded the allocation of more funds to cover hospital treatment, increased financial support for refugees, the restoration of dilapidated homes.
They also called on UNRWA to modernize education, demanding the inclusion of digital means of learning.
Members of the Palestinian Red Crescent and other humanitarian organisations participated in the protests.
Lazzarini said at the press conference that after 10 years of underfunding, UNRWA had "reached a point where it can no longer increase its resources to cover all needs".
He said that he he had asked donors, especially those who have reduced funding, to "reconsider the impact of their decisions on the stability of the region".
"I have proposed partnerships with other UN agencies, similar to to partnerships UNRWA has used for decades," he added.
The agency provides services to about 5.3 million Palestinian refugees, and has suffered from a stifling financial crisis for a number of years, leading to a decline in the amount of aid it provides
Most of the refugees it helps live in camps that have been transformed into built-up but impoverished residential areas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip, as well as Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.