President Obama Announces New Funds to UNRWA for Gaza and the West Bank

13 June 2010

Jerusalem
10 June 2010

President Barack Obama has unveiled a 400 million US dollar package of new funds for Gaza and the West Bank, which includes 50 million US dollars for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. 40 million USD will go towards UNRWA’s Emergency Appeal in the West Bank and Gaza to provide food assistance, job creation as well as emergency education and health programs. An additional 10 million USD has been pledged to build five new UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip. 

"We think it is important to reaffirm our commitment to improving the day-to-day lives of ordinary Palestinians," President Obama said following talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Washington. "This is a positive signal that the United States cares about the suffering of the people in Gaza". UNRWA Commissioner General, Filippo Grandi thanked the President and People of the United States. “This is an important affirmation of the support to Palestine refugees and to UNRWA from the United States at the highest level. We are particularly grateful for the funds for the building of schools in Gaza, where the blockade has prevented us from building new schools for years”. 

The latest funds bring US contributions to UNRWA this year to about 165 million US dollars. For more information about UNRWA, its work and history visit www.unrwa.org

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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$ 70.5 million.

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