21 May 2013
During his visit to Gaza today, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Finland Dr. Erkki Tuomioja announced an additional EUR 1.5 million to the General Fund of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This funding will support UNRWA’s regular programme to Palestine refugees living in the occupied Palestinian territory, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.
Accepting the donation, UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi thanked the Finnish Government, stating: “I would like to thank the Government of Finland for this humanitarian gesture, which comes at a critical time and will ensure the continued delivery of regular services to refugees despite the difficult circumstances they are in.”
This year, Finland has already donated EUR 3 million to UNRWA’s General Fund.
“We recognize the importance of UNRWA’s work with Palestine refugees, particularly here in Gaza. Today I met with UNRWA management and staff, and I am impressed by their commitment in difficult circumstances. More than ever, UNRWA requires adequate funds to fulfill its core mandate. At the same time we welcome further efforts by the Agency to reform and to ensure the long-term sustainability of its essential services”, Minister Tuomioja said.
Finland has been a strong supporter of UNRWA since 2007. In 2012 alone, the country donated EUR 4.5 million to UNRWA’s General Fund.
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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$ 72 million.
For more information, please contact:
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724