EC Announces €5 million to Assist Palestine Refugees In Jordan, Syria and Lebanon

09 July 2009

9 July 2009

Jerusalem/Gaza City

The European Commission and UNRWA has announced that the EC would donate €5 million to UNRWA’s Social Safety Net Programme (SSNP) to provide critical food assistance to Palestine refugees in camps in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. This contribution is in addition to food and cash subsidies that the EC already provides to refugees in the West Bank and Gaza through UNRWA’s SSNP amounting to €39.7 million in 2009 alone.

EC food aid to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon will allow UNRWA to provide at least 131,611 beneficiaries with rice, vegetable oil, whole milk powder, sugar, lentils and tuna, comprising 30% of refugees’ daily caloric intake, on average. Today‘s contribution comes in addition to the EU‘s €66 million to UNRWA‘s General Fund for 2009, of which 95% has already been disbursed.

UNRWA’s SSNP was introduced in an earlier form in 1978 to combat poverty in the camps. It has evolved into a program that supports Palestine refugees with basic means for survival in times of instability and crisis. The SSNP aims to develop individual, family and community assets to promote long-term self-reliance. The EC contribution will address the priority needs of the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria by providing food commodities to all SSNP beneficiaries.

"This contribution allows us to continue providing for the needs of the most vulnerable Palestine refugees and underscores the EC’s commitment to their well-being," said Karen Abu Zayd, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General.

"The plight facing Palestine refugees remains a key concern for the EU" said Roy Dickinson, Head of Operations of the European Commission office in Jerusalem. "Far too many refuges still endure extremely difficult living conditions. UNRWA provides a vital lifeline to this population, in particular the poorest of the poor. Alleviating poverty is a cornerstone of the EU‘s development policy and we are wholly committed to fulfilling our pledge to the Palestine Refugees that we will not let them down."

Since 1971 the European Union has regularly supported UNRWA, becoming its largest multi-lateral donor. Over the period 2000 to 2009, the European Commission has provided nearly €1 billion of support to the Agency. Today‘s announced funds are in addition to those contributions. This financial support, when combined with contributions from individual EU Member States, represents more than half of UNRWA‘s total budget.

For more information on the EU‘s assistance to the occupied Palestinian territory:
Alix de Mauny, + 972 (0)54 802 4915 For more information on UNRWA:
Chris Gunness, +97 2(0)54 240 2659

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: