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Conflict Incident Report
Ain al-Hilweh residents protest aid survey
Local residents of south Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp criticized studies conducted to provide compensation for damage caused by heavy fighting in 2017. The survey committee – made up of representatives from U.N. Palestinian aid agency UNRWA, Developmental Action without Borders and the Norwegian Refugee Council – was formed to find and approve beneficiaries for compensation for damage resulting from recent rounds of intense fighting in the south Lebanon camp. Much of the compensation is coming from money given by the European Commission and the Japanese Government who gave $3 million in November.
Emergency and cash assistance have already been provided by UNRWA, but without dedicated funding to address the problem the response was hampered.
European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations initiated an urgent financial assistance program that could reach up to 500 families affected by the fighting with $830 of aid per family.
The Japanese government’s $3 million is earmarked for the reconstruction of affected neighborhoods.
The funding came in response to clashes around the camp’s Al-Tiri neighborhood last year, sparked by hard-line militant leader Bilal Badr. The militant, who reportedly had links to Al-Qaeda, has since fled the camp for Syria. The funding aims to rebuild buildings and compensate residents for damage caused in the fighting and also other clashes that have rocked the camp in recent years.
The fighting between Badr and forces led by the joint Palestinian security forces and Fatah destroyed some of the camp’s infrastructure, causing damage to hundreds of housing units in a number of neighborhoods of the camp.
Despite the outcry from residents wanting swift action, the bulk of the aid efforts was delayed until the funds for reconstruction and restoration were available to the UNRWA.
Although the funds are now available, a controversy over the survey for beneficiaries has temporarily halted the distribution process.
According to the survey, there are 983 affected housing units in Al-Tiri, Ras al-Ahrnar, Smerieh, Al-Teitaba and Soufsaf.
The units were classified into five categories according to the damage taken that ranged from minor cosmetic damage to complete destruction. It recorded 126 cases of complete destruction, as well as 118 cases of houses sustaining “average” and “partial” damages.
Some complaints claimed names of some individuals affected were left out of the survey, while others accused UNRWA of registering names of people not residing in the camps.
A UNRWA official who spoke to The Daily Star invited anyone objecting to the process to submit a formal letter stating their complaints about the methodology used for the survey.
The source said UNRWA teams will visit the camps Thursday to meet reside