28 April 2013
Brazil’s major rice producing state, Rio Grande do Sul, through the Federal Government of Brazil, has donated 11.500 metric tons of rice stocks to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The announcement was made in Jerusalem’s Shufa’at refugee camp today by Rio Grande do Sul Governor, Tarso Genro. “I am delighted to be here among the Palestinian refugees who will benefit from this food produced in my state.
It was important for me to come here and see for myself the conditions they face in this divided city, under occupation and annexation. I bring with me the support – financial and political – of the people I represent, in the hope that this forgotten refugee population will find justice. Looking to the future, I am working with the Federal Government of Brazil to open a United Nations depot in Pelotas, near the plantations where this rice is produced in order to facilitate future deliveries.”
The supplies, which represent all of UNRWA’s rice needs for this year, will be distributed across the areas where the Agency works: the occupied Palestinian territory ( Gaza and the West Bank), Jordan, Lebanon and Syria .
UNRWA’s Executive Director, Filippo Grandi, thanked the people of Brazil and of the State of Rio Grande do Sul and Brazil more widely. “Brazil is emerging as a major supporter of UNRWA and this donation is further evidence of that. We will certainly be putting these supplies from Brazil’s food surplus to good use. I also want to thank colleagues in the World Food Programme, as this donation was possible because WFP agreed to act as the “pass through” agent for the delivery.”
Under Brazilian law, the country can only donate food to the UN through WFP.
In 2013, Brazil is expected to give substantially to UNRWA. Last year that figure was over USD 7 million, making Brazil the largest contributor to UNRWA from the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, Inida, China and South Africa) and the largest donor to UNRWA from South America. These contributions have allowed Brazil to sit as a special guest on two occasions last year on UNRWA’s prestigious Advisory Commission which makes key decisions about the Agency in a rapidly changing Middle East .
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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$ 67.2 million.
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