UAE pledges US$2.5 million for UNRWA

08 December 2009

8 December 2009


The government of the United Arab Emirates has announced a donation of US$2.5 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The announcement was made on December 3rd on the initiative of the President of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. At the same time, the Emirati government urged all states and interested parties to increase their contributions to UNRWA in order to meet the needs of the growing Palestine refugee community.

This donation was welcomed by UNRWA, coming at a time when it is suffering from severe financial difficulties. The Agency’s reserves for 2009 are exhausted, and a shortfall of US$140 million is forecast for 2010.

Karen Koning AbuZayd, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, received the pledge warmly, saying: "I am deeply grateful to Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed and the government of the UAE for this generous response to the Agency’s appeal for help with its regular budget deficit. While pledges from the Arab world towards our Gaza appeals have been excellent, we have been less fortunate in obtaining donations for our regular budget, which finances the operation of our schools, health centres and camp services. I truly appreciate the UAE’s understanding of our difficulties, and its encouragement of others to follow their example."

The UAE’s pledge marks the second donation this year from the Emirati government, which contributed US$1 million earlier in the year. The overall donation of US$3.5 million represents the largest annual contribution by an Arab donor to UNRWA’s regular budget in the last twenty years, and makes the UAE the top Arab donor in 2009 to the Agency’s regular budget.

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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 more than US$ 106  million.

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