UNRWA Commissioner-General visits Ireland

23 October 2012

East Jerusalem

The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) arrived in Ireland today at the start of his first official visit and will attend meetings with key members of the Irish government and the Irish parliament.

“I am delighted to travel to Ireland and have this opportunity to give an update on our work with refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, all of which have been in the news recently”, said Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi. “I also want to thank the people and government of Ireland who are among our most loyal partners for their support.” Ireland has donated over USD 35 million to support Palestine refugees through UNRWA since 2007. The country is also a member of the Agency’s Advisory Commission.

During today’s visit to the Irish parliament, Grandi is expected to meet Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore, Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello, and representatives from both the public sector and civil society.

Grandi will also brief on the situation facing UNRWA’s 3,600 staff in Syria, who are working tirelessly to ensure that the 500,000 Palestine refugees residing in the country are supported during such difficult times. Since the unrest began in Syria, four UNRWA staff members have been killed.

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Media Links

In advance of the official trip, Mr. Grandi gave interviews to the Pat Kenny Show and the Irish Times. For more information, follow these links:

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/todaywithpatkenny/
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2012/1023/1224325577479.html

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:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications & Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0724