- Title: LEBANON: UN agency begins reconstruction of Nahr al-Bared's ''old camp'' area
- Date: 6th June 2008
- Summary: VARIOUS OF BULLDOZERS KNOCKING DOWN DESTROYED BUILDINGS (8 SHOTS)
- Embargoed: 21st June 2008 13:00
- Location: Lebanon
- Country: Lebanon
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA9FTDIO4TS50ROCO15J9D9BX6B
- Story Text: The UNRWA begins first phase of reconstruction of the Nahr al-Bared camp after army allows the agency to prepare site for collecting rubble.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) began on Thursday (June 5) the first phase of reconstruction of the "old camp" area of Nahr al-Bared, which was heavily damaged during the conflict between the Lebanese army and Islamists a year ago.
The first phase includes clearing rubble and levelling damaged buildings in the camp's 27,000-square-metre UNRWA compound. Rubble collected from other parts of the camp will be transferred to the area and sorted.
"Today we are removing the rubble from the UNRWA compound in the Nahr al-Bared camp, which consists of ten schools and UNRWA offices. This is the first step for removing the rubble from the "old camp". It would not have happened without our close cooperation with the Lebanese government and army," UNRWA spokeswoman Hoda al-Turk told Reuters.
Turk said the move would reassure the displaced residents of the camp that efforts for rebuilding are underway.
"The reconstruction will certainly take place and this is a new sign and proof to the Palestinian people and residents of the Nahr al-Bared that their camp will be rebuilt. A conference for donors will also be held in Vienna on June 23," said Turk as bulldozers behind her chipped at destroyed schools buildings where some of the heavy fighting took place.
Lebanon is host to some 400,000 Palestinian refugees, half of them living in twelve poor and overcrowded camps across the country.
The fighting in the camp last year angered many, especially the displaced, who are growing frustrated over the pace of reconstruction.
Eighty percent of the camp was destroyed in the fighting that lasted from May to September and most of the camp's original 40,000 residents were forced to leave.
UNRWA says it has now assisted in the return of more than a 1,000 refugees to what is known as the "new camp" region of Nahr al-Bared.
The "new camp" is a term used to refer to the extended boundaries of the original "old camp" built in 1948 upon Israel's founding.
The agency said previously that the "old camp" could take up to four years to rebuild.
UNRWA has secured about 30 million U.S. dollars of the 55 million USD it had appealed for to rebuild the camp and to provide temporary shelter and basic needs for those who are still waiting to return, as well as those who have returned.
The UN agency is looking to secure more during a Vienna conference on June 23.
The Lebanese government estimates the reconstruction will need about 382 million USD.
The government's estimate for the reconstruction includes UNRWA's 55 million USD request, 249 million USD for rebuilding the camp, and 78.5 million USD for the nearby municipalities and compensation for those affected in the surrounding areas.
The fighting at Nahr al-Bared killed more than 400 people, reminding many of a civil war that ended 17 years ago.
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