picNearly nine out of 10 Palestinian refugees believe that services provided by the UN are insufficient, according to the results of a wide-ranging survey to be unveiled Thursday.

Almost 70 percent of refugees questioned said they were unsatisfied with the work of the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNWRA).

The questionnaire was conducted in collaboration with the Palestinian Return Gathering in Damascus, Palestinian Return Center in London and the Sabet Organization for the Right of Return in Beirut and surveyed more than 1400 refugees from Lebanon and Syria.

Carried out in October 2009 to coincide with the 60th anniversary of UNWRA, the survey aimed "to reach very scientific and specific results and take into consideration the realities of the camps in which refugees live," said a joint statement seen by The Daily Star.

The poll showed 86 percent of refugees thought UNWRA's work was "insufficient," although those questioned were almost unanimously supportive of the agency's existence.

When asked, "Do you approve with UNWRA continuing to provide services for refugees?" 92 percent of interviewees responded that they sought the continuation of the organization's services.

Abdo Saad, director of the Beirut Center for Research and Information, said the survey indicated Palestinians were as reliant as ever on UNWRA and the agency would only be able to stop providing support for refugees once their right of return was established.

"It is apparent that ending UNWRA services is practically and solely linked to implementing and achieving the right of return, meaning the refugees, with their political and national instinct are acting according to the rule that UNWRA is responsible for them," he said.

Saad added that hosting countries should give the refugees their civil and human rights and improve living situations. He said that UNWRA, the international community and NGOs should form an emergency plan to improve the economic and living situation of the displaced.

Survey eesults are set to be unveiled in Beirut Thursday, but figures obtained by The Daily Star show the following:

l Some 44.9 percent of respondents classed UNWRA's health services as "weak," with 40.3 percent of respondents calling them "acceptable"

l Only 35.3 percent of refugees believed UNWRA's education services were "acceptable." Some 22.1 percent saw them as "weak" and 26.4 percent as "good"

l More than half of those questioned - 55.5 percent - thought UNRWA's relief efforts were "weak," with just 9.2 percent viewing them as "good"

l When asked "do you see any deterioration in UNWRA services?" 64.1 percent answered "yes" with only 5.4 percent claiming they had witnessed no decline in treatment by the agency

The primary demands of refugees questioned were an increase in health services and medicinal supplies, followed by improved educational and cultural activities in addition to job opportunities.

By Patrick Galey and Carol Rizk

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=1&article_id=113535#ixzz0lGmc7URd
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)