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UNRWA announces reduction of international personnel
Statement by UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness
Today UNRWA announced that 85 per cent of all 137 international personnel on short term contracts will be separated in a phased process which will last until the end of September. 35 per cent of the 137 internationals will see their contracts end in the coming four weeks. Another 50 per cent will end by 30 September without further extension or renewal. UNRWA is taking this measure to reduce costs as much as possible without reducing services to refugees.
UNRWA has a deficit to the end of the year of 101 million USD and we will continue with our robust efforts in resource mobilisation. As things currently stand, with stringent austerity measures already in place beyond today’s announcement, the Agency should be able to continue with life-saving services to the end of the year. These include our health programmes, relief and social services, sanitation and emergency projects for which we have funds. UNRWA’s school system for half a million children across the Middle East in Jordan, Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian territory and Syria are essential but some difficult decisions may be needed in coming weeks if the deficit is not filled.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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