Commissioner-General briefs senior EU officials

13 October 2011

13 October 2011

During a visit to Brussels, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi met with various senior officials, among them the EC Commissioner for Development, H.E. Mr Andris Piebalgs, and addressed a joint meeting of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs, Development and Budget Committees in Brussels on 10 October 2011.

The Commissioner-General used the opportunity to inform the Members of the challenges faced by UNRWA in the region, thanking them for all their support and commitment to the Agency and Palestine refugees, and appealing to them to assist in ensuring that Palestine refugees are appropriately recognised in the revised European Neighborhood Policy for the Near East.

The Commissioner-General stated: “During these times of change and upheaval in the Near East, Palestine refugees often feel isolated and their aspirations neglected. EU support, as manifested through the generous support to UNRWA, is therefore a key message reaffirming that the EU cares and is committed to assist.”

The EU and its Member States are the biggest donors to UNRWA. Together with humanitarian aid and support from the Instrument for Stability, the EU contribution for 2011 now stands at EUR €125 million. Indeed, between 2000 and 2010 the EU provided more than EUR €1.2 billion in support to the Agency.

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.

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