28 February 2023
The European Union (EU) Representative to West Bank and Gaza, Mr. Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff (left), and the UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini (right) confirm the European Union contribution to the UNRWA Programme Budget for 2023 in East Jerusalem © 2023 UNRWA Photo by Louise Wateridge


The European Union (EU) contributed EUR 82 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) this week. Through this contribution, and in line with the EU-UNRWA Joint Declaration 2021-2024, the EU continues to provide vital, reliable and predictable support to enable the Agency to fulfil its mandate, protect and assist Palestine refugees, and play a stabilizing role in the region. 

“I am extremely grateful for the European Union’s strong and reliable support to UNRWA and to the millions of Palestine refugees we serve,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. “The EU’s multiyear funding reaffirms the commitment of the EU to Palestine refugees’ well-being and rights until a just and lasting solution to their plight. The Agency remains committed to the highest standards of transparency and efficiency in the management of its operations, putting refugees’ interest at its centre. EU's donations will help us sustain vital services across the region, including education for over half a million girls and boys and sends a message of hope at a time Palestine refugees struggle through the worst socio-economic conditions in years.” 

The long years of blockade and repeated cycles of hostilities in the Gaza Strip, the dramatic escalations of violence in the West Bank, the devastating earthquake in Syria which comes on top of 11 years of conflict, the unprecedented economic crisis in Lebanon and the soaring unemployment in Jordan are taking a heavy toll on Palestine refugees. Most of them rely on UNRWA for their survival. 


In his remarks during the signing ceremony, the EU Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff said: “UNRWA’s contribution to the lives of Palestine refugees remains indispensable and its role in maintaining stability in this extremely complex and challenging region is undisputed. This EUR 82 million package demonstrates once again our long-standing commitment and support to the Agency and its 28,000 staff on the ground in delivering core services across its five fields of operations. We all have a collective responsibility towards Palestine refugees to sustain UNRWA’s work, and we should to this effect, provide predictable and reliable multi-annual funding. The Agency’s financial situation remains critical and additional support from a wider donor community is urgently needed to prevent any interruptions in its services. The EU and its Member States will continue to support UNRWA, encourage internal reforms, and contribute to better serving Palestine refugees. By this, we keep the hope alive as we work towards a better future for Palestine refugees, including by restoring a political horizon.” 


The European Union is the third-largest donor to the Agency, having contributed to the Agency’s Programme Budget EUR 97 million in 2022. The predictable and reliable support of the EU has enabled UNRWA to provide essential frontline services to Palestine refugees including in health, education, social services and camp improvements across the five fields of operations. In the absence of a political solution to the conflict, the EU has become a key strategic partner for the Agency, supporting its efforts to help Palestine refugees achieve their full human development potential despite unprecedented challenges. 


- Ends - 


Notes to Editors:  


  • Since 1971, the strategic partnership between the European Union and UNRWA has been based on the shared objective of supporting the human development, humanitarian and protection needs of Palestine refugees. 

  • Today, the EU is the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees. 


  • Collectively, the EU and its Member States are among the largest contributors to the Agency's humanitarian emergency appeals and projects in response to crises and humanitarian needs across the region.  


  • In 2021, the EU signed a Joint Declaration in support of UNRWA for the period 2021-2024, marking 50 years of partnership. In the Joint Declaration, the EU commits to continue supporting UNRWA politically and securing predictable, multi-annual financial resources to enable the Agency to fulfil its mandate and provide its essential services to Palestine refugees. 

Background Information: 

UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The United Nations General Assembly established UNRWA in 1949 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

UNRWA operates in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, The Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. 

Tens of thousands of Palestine refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods due to the 1948 conflict continue to be displaced and in need of support, nearly 75 years on.

UNRWA helps Palestine Refugees achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.


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