Australia pledges AUD 4.6 million to UNRWA

28 May 2013

24 May 2013
Beirut, Lebanon

Australia will provide AUD 4.6 million (approx. US$ 4.5 million) to support UNRWA’s response to the crisis in Syria. AUD 2 million will go towards the health needs of Palestine refugees from Syria who have been displaced and are now sheltering in Lebanon through the Syria Regional Humanitarian Response Plan. The remaining AUD 2.6 million will support UNRWA’s core education, health and relief services in Syria and across the region through the General Fund.

This commitment was announced during a meeting between UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi and the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Bob Carr in Lebanon today.

Minister Carr was updated on the current challenges facing the Agency, as well as the deepening humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees. As conflict has begun to overwhelm refugee camps in Syria, an estimated 235,000 Palestine refugees have been internally displaced, with 53,000 seeking refuge in Lebanon and an additional 6,000 sheltering in Jordan.

Minister Carr said: “Australia recognizes the extraordinary efforts being made by UNRWA staff to deliver vital health and relief services inside Syria, and to help tens of thousands of Palestinian refugee families who have fled to neighboring Lebanon and Jordan send their children to school and receive treatment in UNRWA clinics.”

Thanking Australia, Grandi said: “The current situation is having a huge effect on the lives of Palestine refugees, especially those who have fled to neighbouring countries. This further commitment to Palestine refugees by Australia is an exceptional example of the country’s continued support to Palestine refugees, as well as their deepening partnership with the Agency. It is helping us provide education to refugee children throughout the region, as well as health and humanitarian relief.” This commitment is in addition to Australia’s agreement with UNRWA to provide AUD 90 million over five years.

Australia is a major partner of UNRWA, and a member of the Agency’s Advisory Commission, comprising major governmental supporters.

- Ends -

Background information

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 donor contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 66.9 million.

For more information, please contact:

Chris Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
c.gunness@unrwa.org
Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724
s.mshasha@unrwa.org

Background Information

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$ 69 million.

For more information, please contact:

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