EU provides additional EURO 5.5 million to support UNRWA’s environmental health programme in Gaza

28 December 2009

Gaza City

Karen Koning AbuZayd, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), and H.E. Christian Berger, the European Union Representative, announced today in the UNRWA Rimal Health Center in Gaza City an additional contribution of EUR€5.5 million in support of UNRWA’s health and environmental health programme in the Gaza Strip.

The additional funds will go towards combating the effects of this year’s war on public and environmental health in Gaza. The aftermath of that conflict and the continued blockade have seriously affected the overall health of Gazans, as well as the adequate provision of public health services in the area. The EU’s latest contribution will benefit 85 per cent of registered Palestine refugees in the Strip who access quality health services through UNRWA’s 17 primary health care centres, three Sub health centres, 13 dental units and three mobile dental units.

The EU’s latest contribution will allow UNRWA to sustain and promote good health for Gazans at the individual and the community level. UNRWA’s health and environmental health services in Gaza include outpatient care, dental care, hospitalisation of patients, disease prevention and control (including both communicable and non-communicable diseases), health education and outreach, rehabilitation of physically disabled persons and environmental health services. The services are complemented by essential diagnostic and support services such as laboratory and radiological services, specialists, and provision of medical supplies. In addition to maintaining the quality of services, the EU contribution will support activities benefiting the vulnerable and the prevention of disability, particularly among children.

Signing the agreement, UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd said: “It is with great pleasure that I accept this generous donation, which will certainly benefit those who are in most need of our crucial support in the delivery of health services in the Gaza Strip.”

From his side, the European Union Representative Christian Berger said: “This latest contribution from the European Union comes in support of UNRWA’s health and environmental health programme in Gaza. It is a critical moment for one of the most import services UNRWA is providing and which is crucial for the daily life of hundreds of thousands of Palestine refugees here in the Gaza Strip. As we sign this agreement only a few days after signing a €22 million agreement with the Palestinian Authority in support of the private sector in Gaza, the European Union marks its continuous commitment toward UNRWA and the people of Gaza who suffer from the continued policy of closure.”

The new agreement is topping up an original EUR€13 million grant from the EU to the Agency this year, which aims to create up to 54,000 new job opportunities and help restore Gaza’s industrial sector.

The European Union is the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees. Over the period 2000 to 2009, the EU, excluding EU member states, alone has provided more than €1 billion of support to the Agency. The EU‘s total contribution to UNRWA in 2009 amounts to more than €170 million, its largest contribution ever. The EU and its Member States provided 62% of support to the General Fund in 2009. This funding has enabled human development for the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

The EU‘s principal objective in delivering support to Palestine refugees is to contribute to the just resolution of the refugee issue as part of a comprehensive settlement of final status issues. In doing so, the EU ensures that the essential humanitarian needs of the Palestine refugees are met; that they receive education, health and social protection services, so that they are able to contribute as educated, skilled and healthy citizens to the future Palestinian State. It delivers most of such assistance through its partnership with UNRWA.

For more information on the EU‘s assistance to the occupied Palestinian territory, contact:
Shadi Othman, +972 (0)2 541 5888 ext 867 /

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$ 100 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
+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