Greeted by community representatives, the Head of the Middle East Section at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in Ottawa, Ms. Lise Filietrault arrived in Ein el-Tal camp on 6 December for a hand-over ceremony of 40 housing units to Palestine refugee families who have been living in World War II Army barracks in Neirab camp, Aleppo for nearly 56 years.
“Thanks to our donors and the strong support of the Syrian Government, UNRWA can help the refugees in Neirab camp with better accommodation and also raise the overall standard of living for the Palestine refugee communities both in Ein el-Tal and in Neirab”, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria Panos Moumtzis, told the audience which included the Director- General of the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees (GAPAR) Ali Mustafa, donor representative, UNRWA staff and the Palestine refugee community.
The families, who started the final finishing works of their new houses on a self-help basis, were presented with a symbolic olive tree plant to mark their move to the new homes by Lise Filietrault, Ali Mustafa, and Panos Moumtzis.
The 40 new shelters are part of the Neirab rehabilitation project which addresses the problems of 1,300 families still living in the Neirab barracks area. The project will directly and indirectly improve the living conditions of over 20,000 Palestine refugees.
UNRWA is managing the project in two phases, in close collaboration with GAPAR, gradually moving families from Neirab camp to Ein el-Tal before redesigning and rehabilitating Neirab. The total project budget for the first phase is approximately US $7 million which does not include infrastructural contributions made by the Syrian Government at about US $5 million.
“We are happy to be here today and see first hand the hard work you have done”, said Ms. Filietrault. CIDA is the largest donor to the project’s first phase with a total contribution of almost US $5.4 million.
Ali Mustafa stressed that the project reflects the cooperation among the Syrian Arab Republic, UNRWA and donor countries to provide better services to Palestine refugees until a just and durable solution is found to their plight, in accordance with relevant UN resolutions.
UNRWA is a humanitarian relief and development agency providing basic services - education, health, relief and social services - to over 4.3 million registered Palestine refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. UNRWA also provides emergency relief in times of crisis and operates a microfinance and microenterprise programme. In Syria, the Agency provides assistance to over 430,000 Palestine refugees, 30,000 of whom live in the Aleppo area.