Strategic Dialogue in Brussels: UNRWA and the EU advance their strong partnership

06 March 2023
UNRWA and the EU held their 7th Strategic Dialogue in Brussels, Belgium. © 2023 UNRWA Photo

Brussels, 6 March – The 7th Strategic Dialogue between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and the European Union took place on 6 March in Brussels.

The EU-UNRWA Strategic Dialogue is an important annual platform for both organizations to jointly assess and review their cooperation, in line with the Joint Declaration signed for the period 2021-2024.

During the high-level meeting, participants discussed the challenging political and financial environment in which UNRWA operates, and agreed on the importance of ensuring adequate, predictable and sustainable funding for the Agency to continue delivering on its mandate and contributing to regional stability.

“As UNRWA approaches its 75th anniversary, it is reflecting on how to remain efficient, impactful and relevant to the wellbeing and human development of Palestine refugees and, consequently to their feeling safe and secure”, said Ms. Stenseth. “The Agency is rolling out ambitious modernization plans, including on digitalization, to ensure that its services, namely education, health and social protection are effective and high quality. This dialogue is an opportunity for UNRWA and the EU, one of our strongest partners, to reflect on our common commitment to the rights of Palestine refugees and find ways to help fulfil them despite the acute financial challenges that the Agency faces.”

On the margins of the Strategic Dialogue, the UNRWA delegation, headed by Deputy Commissioner-General, Ms. Leni Stenseth, will meet with representatives of several European institutions, including the European Commission and members of the European Parliament, and civil society organizations. Discussions in all the meetings will focus on the irreplaceable role that UNRWA plays in a highly volatile region, and the stability that its services help bring to the lives of the refugees in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

During this visit Ms. Stenseth was accompanied by the Director of UNRWA Affairs in the West Bank, Mr. Adam Bouloukos, the Acting Director of UNRWA’s Education Department, Ms. Marta Lorenzo, and the Director of Planning, Mr. Sam Rose.


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Notes to Editors:

  • The European Union is the third-largest donor to the Agency, having already contributed to the Agency’s Programme Budget EUR 82 million in 2023. 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.
  • Since 1971, the strategic partnership between the EU and UNRWA has been based on the shared objective of supporting the human development, humanitarian and protection needs of Palestine refugees. 
  • 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 and UNRWA signed a Joint Declaration for the period 2021-2024. 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. 


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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