April 8, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Syria expected more services from U.N. Refugees Works Agency ( UNRWA), according to the results of a poll, released here on Thursday.

The poll was conducted from October 17 to 25, 2009 by the Beirut-based Organization for the Right of Return (Thabit), Palestinian Return Center (PRC) in London and Damascus-based Palestinian Return Community (Wajeb).

It showed that among the 1,460 Palestinian refugees participating the poll, 92 percent of those in Lebanon and Syria support UNRWA's work, though 85 percent said that its work is "not enough".

The majority of those polled emphasized that they have seen a withdrawal in UNRWA services, with 64.1 percent, seeing a large withdrawal while 20.8 percent seeing moderate withdrawal.

The poll also showed that 96 percent of the refugees are registered on UNRWA's lists, but only 70 percent of those refugees receive services of the U.N. organization.

In the meantime, the poll also noticed the differences in living conditions of the refugees in Lebanon and Syria, as refugees in Syria lead better lives.

Ali Hweidi, General Manager of Thabit, said that the differences were due to the inadequate civil rights for refugees in Lebanon.

The poll concluded that UNRWA, the international community and the NGOs should take care of the Palestinian refugees and prepare an emergency plan to improve their economic and humanitarian conditions through monitoring large budgets to carry out projects and programs to achieve this goal.

However, Hoda Souaiby, the Public Information Officer of UNRWA' s Lebanon Field Office, said that the institution was not reducing services, adding that the increase of refugees' need led to the results of the poll.

"We hope we can have more funds and provide more services for refugees, but we need more support from Arab countries," said Souaiby.

According to UNRWA, there are around 420,000 Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon, and 467,000 in Syria.

Established by the United Nations, following the 1948 Arab- Israeli War, UNRWA has been providing education, health care, social services and emergency aid to Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, as well as in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the past 60 years.

It is the only agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific region or conflict.


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