BEIRUT: Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny announced additional funds Monday to assist Syrian refugees in Lebanon and for the communities hosting them.
Kenny announced the additional $2.7 million to support the influx of thousands of refugees from Syria, as he held talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail.
Half of the new contribution, which will be channeled through the UNHCR and UNRWA, will go to a UNHCR program providing food relief to poor Lebanese communities who have hosted refugees from Syria.
On his one-day visit to Lebanon, Kenny will inspect the Irish troops operating under UNIFIL.
The Irish official confirmed both Ireland’s and the European Union’s unwavering support for the sovereignty, unity, stability and peace of the country.
Both Salam and Kenny voiced deep concern over the tragedy of the conflict in neighboring Syria and the serious economic, social, political and security impact that it has had on Lebanon.
Kenny also voiced his endorsement of U.N. Security Resolution 1701, the Baabda Declaration and the work of the International Support Group for Lebanon in helping the country through difficult times.
Meanwhile, the U.N. World Food Program said in its regional report Monday that it had achieved 94 percent of its operational plan in Lebanon for May and was planning more assistance for Syrian refugees in the country in June.
The May assistance of the WFP reached over 744,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon through 715,210 vouchers and 29,278 food parcels. The June plan aims to reach 813,589 refugees with 770,333 food vouchers and 43,256 parcels.
The UNHCR said in its latest weekly report that more than 9,900 Syrian refugees had registered with the agency in one week, raising the total number of registered refugees to over 1.1 million. Initially a nation of 4 million, Lebanon has not received sufficient aid from the international community to cope with this large number of refugees.
Saudi Arabia has donated 390 tons of dates to the WFP in Lebanon, expected to arrive in late June, around the same time the holy month of Ramadan is due to begin.
The dates will be distributed among newly arrived Syrian refugees as part of the food parcel assistance, as well as among the Syrian refugees in informal tented settlements and collective shelters.
Dates will also be distributed to vulnerable Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians partaking in meals served in communal kitchens during Ramadan.
The WFP has also been analyzing spending patterns of its beneficiaries over time, using data collected from shop interviews and household visits.
Research shows that most households use the entire value of the vouchers at once to buy dry goods and staple items and use other sources of cash for additional purchases throughout the month.