UNRWA Commissioner-General, Filippo Grandi, Visits Syria

19 February 2010

Damascus, 18 February 2010

Newly appointed Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Mr Filippo Grandi, will visit Syria from 21 to 23 February. He will be accompanied by Ms Margot Ellis, the new Deputy Commissioner-General.

With over 21 years of experience with the United Nations, most recently as Deputy Commissioner-General, Mr Grandi brings considerable experience to his role, as well as a determination to establish the rights and dignity of Palestine refugees. Ms Ellis spent time in high-level positions in the private sector before working for more than 20 years in a range of senior field roles at USAID.

Mr Grandi‘s first visit to Syria as Commissioner-General will see him spend three days in Damascus. He will engage in dialogue with UNRWA‘s partners - meeting with Palestine refugees, UN sister organisations and high-level Syrian government officials.
Mr Grandi will meet with the diplomatic community to provide an overview of the Agency’s operational and financial challenges in the region, and brief them on UNRWA Syria’s new initiative in youth programming. He will also visit UNRWA projects and meet with UNRWA staff in Syria.

UNRWA is a humanitarian and human development agency, providing education, health care, social services, micro-credit and emergency relief to over 4.7 million registered refugees living in the five fields of operation: Gaza, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. In Syria, the Agency provides assistance to almost 470,000 refugees.

For information only     Not an official record

For further information please contact:

Hala Mukhles
Office: 6133035 ext 314
Mobile: 0940888103

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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