Swiss donation enables UNRWA to build reverse osmosis water plant in Burj Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut – UNRWA press release


28 November 2014


UNRWA has inaugurated a new reverse osmosis water plant in Burj Barajneh camp, Beirut. The plant will improve the quantity, quality and affordability of water in the camp, as well as access to potable water. This development forms part of UNRWA efforts to enhance water services for communities in Palestine Refugee camps and was made possible through a generous donation from Switzerland.

Reverse Osmosis is a process where salty water is demineralised using a semi permeable membrane at high pressure. As a result, clean potable water is produced.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by the Swiss Ambassador to Lebanon H.E. François Barras, Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon H.E. Ashraf Dabbour, UNRWA Acting Director Heli Uusikyla, the Representative of the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC) Lina Hamdan, representatives of the Palestinian Popular Committees, the Burj Barajneh Camp Water Committee and representatives of the Burj Barajneh camp community.

Mr. Barras said: “Switzerland is active in tackling threats of a global water crisis and is advocating for a dedicated Global Goal on Water in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. This project here in Burj Barajneh is an example of the continuous commitment of Switzerland to contribute to the improvement of the water accessibility in the Palestine Refugee camps through UNRWA, in partnership with the Popular Committees. We hope that the success of the project will be the fruit of a constructive participatory effort from all concerned groups.”

Ms. Uusikyla thanked the Swiss Government for the generous funding, without which it would not have been possible to access potable water inside the camps. She added that the cooperation of the community inside the camps has played a major role in the success of this project, and congratulated all involved.

In his speech, Mr. Dabbour said: “This project is the embodiment of the concept of partnership and cooperation between donor countries, UNRWA and the embassy of the state of Palestine. It also embodies the Swiss government’s commitment to the right of the Palestinian people to live in dignity.”

Ms. Hamdan welcomed the improvement of the camp’s residents living conditions, and praised the support of Switzerland in funding this project, which helps secure a dignified life for Palestine refugees in Lebanon and strengthens stability.

Switzerland has contributed US$ 17 million to UNRWA for a wide range of projects relating to environmental health and solid waste management; a self-help shelter rehabilitation approach; enhanced employment opportunities for Palestine refugees and the establishment of employment services centres; the reconstruction of an UNRWA school; Nahr el-Bared Camp reconstruction; the development of an UNRWA school management system; cash assistance to Palestine refugees from Syria; and studies and assessments of UNRWA schools’ physical environment health profile and electricity running costs in all UNRWA installations in Lebanon. In addition, Switzerland supports UNRWA reform by enhancing the capacity of UNRWA programmes through the secondment of experts.


UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 56 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness

UNRWA Spokesperson


+972 (0)54 240 2659


+972 (0)2 589 0267

Sami Mshasha

Chief of Communications & Arabic Language Spokesperson


+972 (0)54 216 8295


+972 (0)2 589 0724

Zizette Darkazally

Public Information Officer – Lebanon Field Office


+ 961 (0)1 840 490


+ 961 (0)1 840 490


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