Belgium: A strong supporter of Palestine refugees

22 January 2013

22 January 2013
Jerusalem

In order to provide services to nearly five million Palestine refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, UNRWA relies almost entirely on voluntary contributions from its international partners. The Government of Belgium is one such important partner, supporting the Agency year-after-year to ensure that those the Agency works for receive the services they require and deserve.

This year, Belgium donated EUR 6 million to support the Agency’s General Fund (regular programming in all five fields of operation) out of which EUR 2 million was earmarked for UNRWA‘s social safety net programme. In addition, Belgium contributed EUR 3 million to support the Agency’s Emergency Appeal in the West Bank and Gaza, which works to address the consequences of the humanitarian crisis there.

Due to the global economic climate, UNRWA has been operating at a deficit for the last few years, and when the Agency put out an emergency call this year to ensure that it did not need to stop the provision of essential services to its beneficiaries, Belgium stepped in and donated an additional EUR 2 million. They also provided critical support to Palestine refugees in Syria this year with an additional donation of EUR 400,000.

“Without the kind of continued support that Belgium and other European countries provide, it is difficult to say where we would be today,” said UNRWA’s Director of External Relations and Communications Salvatore Lombardo. “They have provided a tremendous amount of support for our Agency asking in return only that we ensure the best possible quality of service to Palestine refugees in all our fields of operation. For that, we are most grateful.”

“We support UNRWA because it is a reliable agency that works on the ground, providing daily support to more than five million Palestine refugees,” said Belgian Consul-General and Permanent Representative to UNRWA Geert Cockx. “Belgians recognize the growing needs of these people—especially in Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory—and the importance of supporting them as much as possible. We see our partnership with UNRWA as the best way to accomplish this and to improve stability in the region in difficult times.”

Between 2007 and 2012, the Government of Belgium donated approximately EUR 58 million to UNRWA. Belgium is the seventh largest donor to the Emergency Appeal and the 16th largest donor to the General Fund. While they have provided support for a wide range of UNRWA programmes, they have been especially important contributors to UNRWA’s social safety net and job creation programmes. Last fall, they hosted the Agency’s annual stakeholder meeting at the Egmont Palace in Brussels.


Click here to read more about social safety net programme.

Click here to read more about the job creation programme.

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$ 68.2 million.

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