Brazil contributes $7.5 million to UNRWA in Gaza

14 May 2012

Jericho, West Bank

The Government of Brazil today signed a contribution of USD 7.5 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to support the Agency’s education, health and social service programmes in Gaza.

The one-year agreement was signed during a ceremony at Al-Ojah Basic Co-ed School in Jericho by Brazilian Representative to the Palestinian Authority, Ms. Ligia Maria Scherer, and UNRWA Commissioner-General, Filippo Grandi. The total one-year contribution will help the Agency to sustain its humanitarian food assistance programme to 106,000 Palestine refugees living in abject poverty, to ensure a decent educational environment for 1,800 children, and to provide primary health care to 1.2 million refugees in 20 health facilities in the Gaza Strip.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Brazilian Representative Scherer said, “By means of its commitment, experience and hands-on approach in dealing with the problems affecting Palestine refugees, UNRWA has been an invaluable partner of the international community.”

Welcoming the contribution, Commissioner-General Grandi said: “Brazil has led the way among the BRICS countries in supporting UNRWA’s human development work, which helps to create opportunities and to improve the lives of Palestine refugees both in Gaza and throughout the region. I am particularly pleased that this contribution is to our core budget, which will allow UNRWA to provide essential services to some of the poorest and most disadvantaged in the Middle East.”

In 2010, Brazil contributed USD 200,000 to the core programme budget with an additional donation of USD 500,000 for the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon. In 2011, the Government of Brazil increased its contribution to USD 960,000 towards UNRWA’s core programmes, with a particular emphasis on food aid and education activities in Gaza. Today’s agreement represents an increase in the Brazilian contribution of some 700 percent, placing Brazil as UNRWA’s largest donor amongst the BRICS and Latin American countries.

UNRWA’s Commissioner-General will make an official visit to Brazil in August to thank the government for its support for the Agency and to discuss mechanisms to further develop partnerships with the government and civil society in support of Palestine refugees.

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 more than US$ 106  million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
+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