BEIRUT: Lebanon Friday asked Arab states to provide additional financial support of $280 million to cover the deficit in its construction project to rebuild the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp and surrounding areas, destroyed during the 2007 clashes.
“The Lebanese government looks to its sisterly Arab states to share the burden and cover a deficit of $280 million as it urges the countries to help return the refugees to their residence in order to avoid security and social problems,” Prime Minister Tammam Salam said in a letter.
During a meeting at the Grand Serail, Salam distributed the letter to envoys of various Arab and Gulf countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Algeria.
“Leaving thousands of refugees homeless threatens civil peace and puts security and stability at risk inside the refugee camps amid circumstances that are pushing Lebanon into the eye of the storm,” Salam said.
The prime minister said Lebanon needed help in carrying the burden given that UNRWA could no longer assist them in light of the arrival of thousands of Palestinians from Syria.
In the letter, Salam detailed the situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, especially the recent influx of 80,000 Palestinians from Syria, many of whom are seeking refuge in and around the Nahr al-Bared camp.
“Thousands of Palestinians settled in the camp, which already suffers from overpopulation, and increased pressure on the state and its institutions to provide the refugees with the needed services,” he said.
Salam attributed the crisis in the northern camp to the 2007 clashes between the Lebanese Army and Islamist fighters from Fatah al-Islam. The fighting left 30,000 Palestinians homeless and destroyed the camp.
The Lebanese government called for and convened a donor conference in 2008 to garner support to help the reconstruction project, estimated to cost $345 million, Salam wrote.
Arab countries promised the government to cover half of the construction cost with other states promising to cover the rest of the budget.
“Until this date, only $188 million out of the needed $345 million [for the camp itself] was secured while $122 million was still needed for reconstruction purposes in surrounding areas.”
Salam warned that construction work was at risk of stopping at the start of 2015 unless the rest of the budget was secured.