United Nations Human Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) this week held a one day donor roundtable meeting in Beirut.
The objective of the meeting was to launch the newly published report 'Investigating Grey Areas: Access to Basic Urban Services in the Adjacent Areas of Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon'.
The meeting, which gathered representatives of the embassies of Canada, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and USA, the European Union Delegation, Italian Cooperation, Swiss Development Cooperation, United States Agency for International Development in addition to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), aimed at sharing the key findings of the study and to discuss the way forward for enhancing dwellers' access to basic urban services in the Adjacent Areas of Palestinian Refugee Camps.
"The report represents a first attempt to address Adjacent Areas of Palestinian Refugee Camps as a particular category of Palestinian gatherings, Mr. Shombi Sharp, UNDP Officer in Charge stated in his welcome note. Those Adjacent Areas are located as informal extensions along the boundaries of official Palestinian refugee camps. Living in a grey zone in-between camps and surrounding cities and towns, dwellers in the Adjacent Areas are not entitled access to basic urban services provided in the adjacent camps by the works agency or those provided in the surrounding by municipalities and public service agencies".
The study identifies the presence of twelve Adjacent Areas in Lebanon located around four out of twelve official camps in Lebanon and accommodating around 35,000 dwellers. Living in "Grey Areas", local communities in the Adjacent Areas are left to rely on a set of self-help initiative, to informally access and maintain basic urban services within their localities.
Based on the findings of the study, UNDP and UN-HABITAT developed a joint initiative to address at the national and local levels the various challenges obstructing access to basic urban services in the Adjacent Areas and gatherings in Lebanon. This initiative is estimated at US$ 4.5 million extending over a period of three years.
"Realizing the dire need to address the precarious living conditions of Palestinian refugees living outside the camps, we have committed to contribute to this joint UNDP and UN-HABITAT initiative with US$ 1 million over the next three years, Mr. Ivan Vuarambon, Swiss Development Cooperation Head Office, announced. Other bilateral donor agencies are encouraged to provide financial contributions to secure the remaining needed funds".