UNRWA Appeals for US$ 1.6 billion for health, education and other basic services

24 January 2023
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini delivers remarks at the Press Conference following the Executive Briefing at the UN in Geneva on 24 Jan 2023. (c) 2023 UNRWA Photo

Funds crucial to respond to growing needs of Palestine Refugees in a region in turmoil 

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The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) appealed today for US$ 1.6 billion for programmes and operations in 2023.    

“Across all the area of operations, UNRWA continues to play an indispensable role in the lives of millions of Palestine refugees. We work to maintain the delivery of basic services in an incredibly difficult financial and political context,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Phillippe Lazzarini. “Palestine refugees – one of the most underprivileged communities in the region- face unprecedented challenges and increasingly rely on UNRWA for basic services and in some cases the sheer survival.   

Compounding challenges over the last year including underfunding, competing global crises, inflation, disruption in the supply chain, geopolitical dynamics and skyrocketing levels of poverty and unemployment among Palestine refugees have put immense strain on UNRWA. Most Palestine refugees now live below the poverty line, many depend on humanitarian assistance, including cash and food, from UNRWA.                                                                                                   

“I have just come back from Syria where I witnessed firsthand indescribable suffering and despair. The situation of Palestine Refugees there is sadly mirrored in other places like Lebanon and Gaza where Palestine refugees are hitting rock bottom. Many told me that all they asked for was a life of dignity, that’s not much to ask for, continued the Commissioner-General.  

As the only UN agency that provides public-sector-like services directly, UNRWA is globally recognized for cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and quality. UNRWA runs a full-fledged education system with over 700 schools providing education to more than half a million children in the region. Its workforce of nearly 30,000 -mostly Palestine Refugees- provides health, sanitation, education and social services including food and cash assistance.  

“For more than 70 years, UNRWA has been delivering and responding to the needs of Palestine Refugees against all odds, shouldering a huge responsibility until a just and lasting political solution is found. We cannot and should not be always scrambling to bring in funds to cover our contribution to human rights and stability. I call for a more sustainable model of funding to this critical Agency under which UNRWA has a predictable, long term and regular source of funding. Without it, we will simply not be able to deliver and with that the lives of Palestine Refugees will hang by a thread and millions of people in the region and beyond will be impacted,says Commissioner-General Lazzarini.  



Notes to Editors:  

  • For 2023, UNRWA has launched an appeal for US$ 1.6 billion for its programmes and operations. US$ 848 million for core services including health, education, relief and social services, and protection, and another US$ 781.6M for emergency operations in the occupied Palestinian territory, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.  

  • UNRWA constantly adapts to change across all fields of its operations overcoming challenges, including expanding e-health access and telemedicine, launching the digital learning platform, strengthening its zero-tolerance approach towards sexual exploitation and abuse, and developing policies and practices for gender parity and equality across the Agency.   

  • In a new Strategic Plan, UNRWA is delineating its vision and objectives for how it can continue to deliver these services that address the evolving human development and human protection needs.  

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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For more information, please contact:

Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson/ Director of External Relations & Communications
+962 (0)79 090 0140