UN calls for $15.5 million for aftermath of clashes in Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp

BEIRUT (AP) — The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees appealed Wednesday for $15.5 million to respond to the fallout of clashes in Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp earlier this month.

The agency, known as UNRWA, said the money is needed to repair infrastructure damaged in the clashes in the Ein el-Hilweh camp, provide alternate schooling locations for children who will now be unable to use the schools in the camp, and hand cash assistance to people who have been displaced from their homes.

Several days of street battles broke out in the camp between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement and Islamist groups in the camp after Fatah accused the Islamists of gunning down one of their military generals on July 30.

While an uneasy truce has prevailed since Aug. 3, clashes could resume if the Islamist groups do not hand over the accused killers of the Fatah general, Mohammad “Abu Ashraf” al-Armoushi to the Lebanese judiciary as demanded by a committee of Palestinian factions earlier this month.

The bulk of the funds requested by UNRWA, about $11 million, would go to provide one-time $1,200 cash aid payments to families whose homes have “become uninhabitable due to the conflict,” the agency said in its appeal, as well as smaller aid payments to other vulnerable families in the camp.

Another $1.65 million would go to setting up a “double shift system” at schools outside of the camp to accommodate about 5,900 students, as the schools inside the camp were damaged in the clashes and “remain occupied by armed actors and inaccessible to UNRWA,” the appeal said.

The requested amount does not include the cost of reconstruction.

There are nearly 500,000 Palestinian refugees registered in Lebanon, although the actual number is believed to be around 200,000, as many have emigrated but remain on UNRWA’s roster.

Palestinians in Lebanon are restricted in their rights to work and own property, and the vast majority of them live in poverty.