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Activists stop UN staff entering Palestinian camp in Lebanon

July 19, 2013 3:40 P.M. (Updated: July 21, 2013 2:31 P.M.)
BEIRUT (Ma'an) -- Palestinian youth activists prevented UN staff entering the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon on Friday.

Camp residents are protesting cuts to assistance by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

The youth activists called for an escalation of protests on Friday evening which will start at the center of the camp.

On Thursday, protesters shut down the UNRWA offices in the camp and burned tires in the streets.

Fadi Bader, a Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader in the camp, said UNRWA's cuts would turn residents into beggars.

He said the UN agency was responsible for the consequences of the cuts and said protests would continue until the decision to reduce assistance was reversed.

The Nahr al-Bared camp was destroyed in 2007 in a conflict between Fatah al-Islam and the Lebanese army, displacing 27,000 refugees.

UNRWA has provided rental and food assistance and health coverage to the refugees displaced from Nahr al-Bared, but has an $8.2 million budget shortfall for the program.

From Sept. 1 the refugees displaced from Nahr al-Bared will receive the same assistance as Palestinians in other camps in Lebanon, UNRWA said in a statement Wednesday.

Food aid will be provided to the most vulnerable families, UNRWA said.

"The Agency is committed to protecting the rental assistance, especially to the neediest families that are still waiting for their homes to be rebuilt. However, this assistance is also subject to securing additional funds," the statement added.

UNRWA has enough funds to continue reconstruction of the camp until the end of 2014, it said.

UNRWA relies on voluntary contributions and has an overall deficit of $58.5 million.

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