Britain supports disadvantaged Palestine refugees through UNRWA

12 June 2012

11 June 2012
Beirut, Lebanon

On a visit to Lebanon today, International Development Minister Alan Duncan announced a new three-year package of UK aid for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to support Palestine refugees in the region.

The new UK package will help provide health, education and other vital services to tens of thousands of Palestine refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

The new support will include:

  • Delivering education for over 36,000 children a year;
     
  • Getting at least four ante-natal appointments per year for over 6,000 pregnant women; and
     
  • Contributing cash transfers to over 20,000 households a year, giving individual households flexibility to buy what they need and also boosting the local economy.

The announcement follows a visit by the minister to the Burj Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut to see first-hand the help that UNRWA provides. Whilst in Beirut, he also met with UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi to discuss UNRWA’s reform plans, designed to further strengthen service delivery and to ensure that UNRWA can best serve refugees across the region.

International Development Minister Alan Duncan said:

“Today in Lebanon, I have seen for myself the excellent work that UNRWA is doing to improve life for Palestinian refugees. I met their dedicated staff and heard stories from the refugees whose lives have been transformed by their work.

“By providing education, health, relief and protection, UNRWA is helping to improve the living standards and long-term prospects for tens of thousands of Palestinians, as well as meeting more immediate humanitarian needs with food and income support for the most vulnerable.

“I am proud to announce today that the UK is able to continue to support this vital work.”

UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi said:

“I am grateful to Britain for its continued support. It has emerged as a model donor, consistent in its commitment; financially and in advocating for UNRWA’s human development mission.

“Importantly, by providing predictable support over three years, the UK will enable UNRWA to plan ahead to address needs on a longer term basis.”

As well as confirming the new funding, the minister spoke about the wider support that the UK has provided to those in the region, including medical aid, shelter and other humanitarian support to those affected by fighting in Syria, and the economic support provided to the region through the Arab Partnership.

Notes to editors:

  • The total funding over the next three years amounts to £7.5 million already confirmed for this year, plus up to an additional £99.5 million by 2015.
     
  • In order that UNRWA has the predictability it needs to be able to address the needs here on a longer-term basis, the UK’s funding is guaranteed for three years, until 2015. Some of this funding will be linked to the delivery of reforms designed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of UNRWA’s services to refugees.
     
  • The UK was one of the first to respond to the growing humanitarian needs of the Syrian people and continues to play a leading role in the international community’s humanitarian response. UK support is addressing critical humanitarian needs in Syria and neighbouring countries. We have now committed £8.5m in funding, which has directly provided emergency food supplies for nearly 24,000 families inside Syria and more food and medical aid arrives every week.
     
  • UK support through the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is contributing to providing safe and appropriate accommodation for over 1,900 people fleeing their homes as a result of the violence in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.
     
  • The Arab Partnership is a joint FCO/DFID initiative that sees the UK working in partnership with countries in the region as they seek to respond to the legitimate aspirations of their people. The UK has committed £110 million over four years to the Arab Partnership. This includes:

    • o £70 million through the DFID managed Arab Partnership Economic Facility, to support economic reform and to build more inclusive, vibrant and internationally integrated economies.
       
    • o £40 million for political reform through the FCO managed Arab Partnership Participation Fund, to support free and fair elections, and stronger parliaments, media and judiciaries.
       
  • The economic facility is focused on those countries embracing reform, including Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya.

- 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, microfinance and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher 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$ 56 million.

For more information, please contact:

Gaza Emergency 1
US$ 30 GIVES COUNSELLING TO A TRAUMATISED CHILD