US Government Contributes $85 million to UNRWA

30 December 2008

Consulate General of the United States of America

30 December 2008


The US Department of State announced today a contribution of $85 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Of this, $25 million will support the emergency needs of Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the West Bank via UNRWA‘s 2009 Emergency Appeal. Another $60 million will support UNRWA‘s General Fund.

Following the announcement in Washington, US Consul General Jake Walles, in Jerusalem, said that the contribution for UNRWA‘s emergency programme in Gaza and the West Bank would also address the immediate humanitarian needs, especially food and medical assistance for 1 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza. Consul General Walles commented that “the United States is deeply concerned about the escalating violence in Gaza. We call on all concerned to protect innocent lives and to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza, including by avoiding civilian causalities."

Walles thanked Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd and her staff “for their dedication and hard work - often at great personal risk - on behalf of Palestinian refugees and expressed condolences for the death of two UNRWA staff members as a result of the current conflict in Gaza.”

AbuZayd, from Gaza, thanked the US government for its $85 million contribution, saying "We are immensely grateful to the United States government for its generous and early 2009 contribution. It is a fine example of the American commitment to supporting UNRWA and improving the daily lives of Palestine refugees throughout the region.”

The United States is UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor. In 2008, the United States provided $184.68 million to UNRWA, including $99.87 million to its General Fund, $57 million to its West Bank/Gaza Emergency Appeal, and $27.8 million to its Lebanon Emergency Appeals.

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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