Lebanon News

Life in Lebanon ‘horrible’ for Palestinians fleeing Syria

Grandi and Morabito visit Palestinian families who fled the violence in Syria, at the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut.

BEIRUT: Palestinians who fled Syria’s war to neighboring Lebanon are living up to 20 in a room with no water, fresh air or electricity, the head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said Tuesday.

Donors needed to do more to help at least 20,000 Palestinians who have already come in and more than 200 who join them every day, the chief of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Filippo Grandi, told Reuters.

Most of the Palestinians who crossed Syria’s southwestern boundary into Lebanon were living with friends and family in existing Palestinian camps set up to take in refugees after the creation of Israel in 1948, Grandi said in an interview.

He had toured the Shatila Palestinian camp in Beirut and found “the conditions were horrible” for new arrivals.

“The main problem they have is accommodation. They rent small, cramped, very unsanitary premises without running water, without ventilation, without electricity,” he said.

Lebanon already hosts more than 200,000 refugees from Syria but has not set up new camps to house them.

Grandi, who was accompanied during his tour of the camp by Italian Ambassador to Lebanon Giuseppe Morabito, said UNRWA was trying to find buildings that could be refurbished and adapted to house refugees.

UNRWA asked donors for $13 million to cover costs in Lebanon until June but only half has been donated and more may be needed, he said.

“The donor community must help Lebanon bear the immense burden of this huge refugee problem,” Grandi added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 23, 2013, on page 4.




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