UNDP and UN-Habitat launch report on Palestinian Gatherings for better coordinated response
In an effort to shed light on Palestinian Gatherings in Lebanon, UNDP and UN-Habitat launched last Tuesday their report “Profiling Deprivation: An Analysis of the Rapids Needs Assessment in Palestinian Gatherings Host Communities”. Hosted by the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC) in the Grand Serail of Beirut, the launching brought together representatives of diplomatic communities, UN agencies, civil society actors, NGOs and academics.
In his welcoming speech, UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Lebanon Ross Mountain considered the report as a “groundbreaking effort aiming to inspire a more evidence-based and integrated response in Palestinian Gatherings,” which continue to be home to 110,000 Palestinian refugees and now an additional 30,000 Palestinians and Syrians who are recent refugees from the conflict in Syria. Mountain highlighted the importance of similar reports in light of the repercussions of the Syrian crisis in Lebanon, at a time when “we must pay special attention to poor and overburdened host communities”, as is the case in Palestinian Gatherings.
Sketching a picture of needs in Palestinian Gatherings, the report proposes practical recommendations for effective and integrated interventions and includes a brief profile on each of the 42 Gatherings in Lebanon. Analyzing the main findings of a qualitative report, carried out in all Gatherings between April 2013 and May 2014, this report constitutes one of the products of UNDP and UN-Habitat’s joint initiative “Improving Living Conditions in Palestinian Gatherings”, which has been providing sustainable WASH and shelter solutions in Palestinian Gatherings since 2012.
Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon Ann Dismor expressed her appreciation for the findings of the report which will “support UNRWA in addressing service gaps in Palestinian Gatherings and designing effective and integrated interventions”. In his speech, LPDC President Hassan Mneimneh also saw in the report a “great tool to inspire decision making processes and to feed the national observatory for Palestinian Gatherings,” that was established by UNDP and UN -Habitat and is now hosted by LPDC.
Swiss Ambassador Ruth Flint represented the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, which has financed the production and publication of the report, along many other activities of the UNDP and UN-Habitat’s joint programme since 2012. “In view of the absence of basic urban service providers in Gatherings, it became increasingly important to investigate governance mechanisms involved in the access and maintenance of basic urban services in Palestinian Gatherings and explore ways to provide adequate and inclusive services in these so-called ‘grey areas’,” Flint told audience explaining the Swiss Government’s interest in supporting Palestinian Gatherings. From his side, Palestinian Ambassador Ashraf Dabbour stressed on the importance of similar initiatives, in which UN agencies, donors, governmental agencies, and civil society actors come together to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
Following a presentation of the report’s main findings by Dr. Jad Chaaban, Associate Professor of Economics at the American University of Beirut and author of report, a panel discussing “Current Response and Operational roles in Gatherings” brought together Mohammed Abdelal, Chief of Field Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Programme in Lebanon at UNRWA, and Dr. Sari Hanafi, Professor of Sociology and Chair of Department of Sociology Anthropology and Media Studies at AUB. In his concluding remarks, chair of panel Dr. Nasser Yassine, Director of Research at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at AUB, called for strengthening local collaborative mechanisms in Palestinian Gatherings, just like any other Lebanese underprivileged area, either through the empowerment of Lebanese surrounding municipalities or through the conditional support of popular committees in Palestinian Gatherings.