Palestinian refugees from Syria protest UNRWA housing stipends suspension • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Palestinian refugees from Syria protest UNRWA housing stipends suspension

SIDON, Lebanon: Dozens of Palestinian refugees who fled the Syrian war to Lebanon held a protest Friday in the southern city ofSidon to protest UNRWA’s decision to cut accommodation aid to refugee families over lack of funds.

“Your unjust decision is [meant] to starve our children,” read one banner in the protest, held outside the United Nations Relief andWorks Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)’s office in Sidon.

Members of the most prominent Palestinian political parties and civil society groups also appeared at the scene to denounce the new policy, in which UNRWA stopped providing refugee families with a monthly allowance of 100$ each to cover rent.

“We all know that the cheapest rent paid by a Palestinian refugee from Syria is more than $200 a day,” the head of the Islamic Relief Associations League in Sidon’s Camps Abou Isaac Makdah said at the demonstration.

“This decision is unfair towards our refugee families, who will as a result have the ground as their beds and the sky as their blankets.”

The protesters held UNRWA responsible for any harm that came to the Palestinian refugees, calling on the agency’s president to urge international donors to guarantee the required funds and restore the program.

UNRWA had announced the news a week earlier, saying the lack of funds did not allow the continuation of the stipend payments.

The agency called on donors “to provide the bare minimum assistance” to protect Palestinians from “disastrous” risks such as detention, abuse and deportation, according to a press release.

“Starting July 2015, more than 43,000 Palestine refugees from Syria in Lebanon who receive monthly cash assistance of $100 per family towards housing and $27 per person towards food will stop receiving the cash assistance towards housing,” UNRWA said.

It added that cash assistance for food will continue for the coming few months, but the agency has exhausted all funding to support housing assistance for Palestinian refugee families in Syria.

“This assistance is the main source of income for over 95 per cent of those refugees who have little access to livelihood opportunities or any public services,” said Matthias Schmale, UNRWA Director in Lebanon.