Saudi Arabia contributes to education and health for Palestine refugees

20 February 2012

20 February 2012
Amman, Jordan

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) has generously donated USD 10 million towards UNRWA’s programmes in Gaza and the West Bank. The agreement was signed today in Riyadh between Engineer Yousef Al Bassam, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of the SFD, and Mr. Filippo Grandi, Commissioner-General of UNRWA.

The contribution will be used to purchase essential education materials and supplies such as textbooks, library books, stationery, and IT equipment, and to repair and upgrade educational facilities in 27 (of the 341) schools in Gaza and the West Bank which have been identified as being most in need of improvement. The contribution will also fund the repair and upgrade of health clinics together with procurement of medicines, medical supplies, and equipment.

On this occasion, Mr. Al-Bassam said: "This new donation comes in the context of the widely continuous support by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Palestinian people through regional and international organisations. UNRWA is one of these who perform a vital role in providing basic and social services for Palestine refugees and has a great degree of transparency with high professional capabilities to prepare, manage and implement such programs and projects. SFD and UNRWA throughout their long cooperation have achieved together great results – a source of pride for all parties."

Welcoming the agreement, Mr. Grandi said: “Once again, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has stepped forward, proving itself to be an exemplary supporter of UNRWA and the Palestine refugees whom we serve. This latest contribution will allow UNRWA to deliver much-needed equipment, supplies and other essentials to thousands of refugees who rely on us for basic services in education and health. These services are not optional, but a necessity for the Palestine refugees, and we urge other donors to follow Saudi Arabia’s lead in coming forward to help us meet these needs. On behalf of the Agency and the Palestine refugees, I cannot reiterate enough our heartfelt gratitude to both Engineer Yousuf Al Bassam, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, and to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is truly an indispensable partner to us.”

UNRWA educates around 270,600 children in 341 schools in Gaza and the West Bank. Of these schools, 20 in Gaza and a further seven in the West Bank have been identified as being in need of special support. Saudi Arabia’s contribution will allow UNRWA to carry out a set of targeted interventions developed to support pupils and teachers in these schools to bring them up to standard. The contribution will also be used to provide health services to Palestine refugees in the Agency’s 63 health centres across the occupied Palestinian territory.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the SFD has come forward as one of UNRWA’s major donors. Last year contributions from Saudi Arabia for projects such as the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon, UNRWA core activities in health, education and relief and social services as well as the flagship Saudi project to Rehouse the Palestine Refugees at Rafah, made Saudi Arabia the number-three donor to UNRWA, and the foremost Arab donor.

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Background information

UNRWA provides assistance, protection and advocacy for nearly 5 million registered Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory, pending a solution to their plight. The Agency’s services encompass education, health care, social safety-net, camp infrastructure and improvement, community support, microfinance and emergency response, including in times of armed conflict.

UNRWA is funded almost entirely by contributions from States. The Agency’s core budget for 2010-2011 stands at USD 1.23 billion. In 2009, emergency appeals for the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon amounted to USD 827.4 million.

For more information please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
c.gunness@unrwa.org

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724
s.mshasha@unrwa.org

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: