28 November 2014

UNRWA has inaugurated a new reverse osmosis water plant in Burj
Barajneh camp, Beirut. The plant will improve the quantity, quality
and affordability of water in the camp, as well as access to potable
water. This development forms part of UNRWA efforts to enhance water
services for communities in Palestine Refugee camps and was made
possible through a generous donation from Switzerland.

Reverse Osmosis is a process where salty water is demineralised using
a semi permeable membrane at high pressure. As a result, clean potable
water is produced.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by the Swiss Ambassador to
Lebanon H.E. François Barras, Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon H.E.
Ashraf Dabbour, UNRWA Acting Director Heli Uusikyla, the
Representative of the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC)
Lina Hamdan, representatives of the Palestinian Popular Committees,
the Burj Barajneh Camp Water Committee and representatives of the Burj
Barajneh camp community.

Mr. Barras said: “Switzerland is active in tackling threats of a
global water crisis and is advocating for a dedicated Global Goal on
Water in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. This project
here in Burj Barajneh is an example of the continuous commitment of
Switzerland to contribute to the improvement of the water
accessibility in the Palestine Refugee camps through UNRWA, in
partnership with the Popular Committees. We hope that the success of
the project will be the fruit of a constructive participatory effort
from all concerned groups.”

Ms. Uusikyla thanked the Swiss Government for the generous funding,
without which it would not have been possible to access potable water
inside the camps. She added that the cooperation of the community
inside the camps has played a major role in the success of this
project, and congratulated all involved.

In his speech, Mr. Dabbour said: “This project is the embodiment of
the concept of partnership and cooperation between donor countries,
UNRWA and the embassy of the state of Palestine. It also embodies the
Swiss government’s commitment to the right of the Palestinian people
to live in dignity.”

Ms. Hamdan welcomed the improvement of the camp’s residents living
conditions, and praised the support of Switzerland in funding this
project, which helps secure a dignified life for Palestine refugees in
Lebanon and strengthens stability.

Switzerland has contributed US$ 17 million to UNRWA for a wide range
of projects relating to environmental health and solid waste
management; a self-help shelter rehabilitation approach; enhanced
employment opportunities for Palestine refugees and the establishment
of employment services centres; the reconstruction of an UNRWA school;
Nahr el-Bared Camp reconstruction; the development of an UNRWA school
management system; cash assistance to Palestine refugees from Syria;
and studies and assessments of UNRWA schools’ physical environment
health profile and electricity running costs in all UNRWA
installations in Lebanon. In addition, Switzerland supports UNRWA
reform by enhancing the capacity of UNRWA programmes through the
secondment of experts.


UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly
in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a
population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its
mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West
Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human
development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services
encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp
infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand
for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees,
expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency’s
General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent
reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large
projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 56 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267 sends e-mail)
Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)2 589 0724 sends e-mail)
Zizette Darkazally
Public Information Officer – Lebanon Field Office
+ 961 (0)1 840 490
+ 961 (0)1 840 490