NEW YORK, 16th December, 2016 (WAM) — The German Development Bank (KfW) signed agreements with UNRWA totaling EUR 18 million from the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

The contribution will support the advanced preparations for the return of 1,572 families to the newly reconstructed Nahr el-Bared Palestine refugee camp in northern Lebanon, as well as UNRWA education and health services for Palestine refugees in Lebanon affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria.

As part of the contribution, EUR 15 million will go towards the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared Camp (NBC) in Lebanon over a period of four years. Activities will include the reconstruction of 276 residential units and 64 retail units, rubble removal, and archaeological investigations on the site. These funds come in addition to EUR 8.8 million (US$ 11.5 million) previously donated by Germany in support of displaced persons from NBC and reconstruction efforts and will help camp residents to rebuild their lives, following nearly ten years of displacement.

To date, nearly half of the camp’s displaced families have returned to newly reconstructed homes in NBC with support from a wide range of international donors. Given current funding to the Nahr el-Bared Appeal, it is envisaged that almost 3,400 families, or 70 per cent of the original population, will return to their homes by 2019.

The remaining EUR 3 million of the German contribution will help UNRWA to provide critical access to health and education assistance for Palestine refugees in Lebanon, including the more than 31,500 Palestine refugees from Syria currently displaced in the country.

“UNRWA appreciates the substantial support of the German Government to the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared Camp, for UNRWA’s operations for Palestine refugees in Lebanon and for our continued partnership and cooperation,” said the Acting Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Hakam Shahwan. “It is important that the voices of Palestine refugees are heard and that the international community continues to respond to support displaced Palestine refugees from Syria and Nahr el-Bared camp and to give them hope”.

“I would like to re-emphasize Germany’s long standing solidarity with Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Even in the context of the Syrian crisis, Palestinians can be assured that we will continue to allocate significant funds to meet their basic and infrastructural needs. The conclusion of today’s funding agreement between KfW and UNRWA is a major step towards the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared. It means that our commitment will translate into a positive reality for hundreds of Palestinian families who will be able to return to decent apartments,” said Martin Huth, Germany’s Ambassador in Beirut.

This assistance builds on significant support by BMZ through KfW to support humanitarian assistance, shelter rehabilitation and water and sanitation in Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon.

In 2015, Germany was the Agency’s fifth largest donor, having contributed EUR 83.2 million (US$ 91.7 million) to UNRWA. Germany is the Agency’s fifth largest donor and has been a member of the UNRWA Advisory Commission since 2005.