Spain Contributes EUR 5 million for UNRWA’s Gaza Flash Appeal

16 January 2009

16 January 2009

The government of Spain has contributed EUR 5 million to UNRWA in response to the Agency’s Flash Appeal for Gaza. The contribution, which reinforces Spain’s role as one of the Agency’s most committed donors, was announced by Prime Minister Zapatero in Madrid on January 8. Spain provides this contribution as “unearmarked”, appreciating the importance of flexibility for the implementation of UNRWA’s response to early recovery needs.

The Spanish contribution to UNRWA’s Gaza Flash Appeal comes in addition to the generous in-kind donation of over 20 tons of emergency assistance including blankets, mattresses and hygiene kits for more than 40,000 civilians seeking shelter in UNRWA installations.

The Agency expresses its gratitude to the government of Spain for its continuous support and rapid response in such critical time for the people of Gaza. Spain, a member of the AdCom since 2005, has consistently supported the Agency’s work towards the human development of Palestine refugees. Some 4.6 million Palestine refugees in UNRWA’s five areas of operations – Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – are eligible for Agency services, including education, healthcare, social services, shelter, micro-credit loans and emergency aid.

Over the past eight years, Spain’s financial contribution to the Agency has reached more than $US80 million. This contribution combines both the funds managed by the Spanish Agency for Cooperation - AECID (over $US75 million) as well as the Spanish regional contributions channeled through the Spanish Committee for UNRWA In addition, the government of Spain has recently funded four positions for Spanish staff members in UNRWA.

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 more than US$ 106  million.

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