Amid an increase in needs and dependence on aid, UNRWA calls for reliable funding

15 November 2022
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini addresses the Advisory Commission Meeting on UNRWA in Amman, Jordan. © 2022 UNRWA Photo by Mahmoud Rahhal

High level bi-annual meeting focuses on sustainable funding in support of Palestine refugees

Download multimedia material here

UNRWA Commissioner-General Advisory Commission statement here.

 

AMMAN 15 November 2022 - The Advisory Commission (AdCom) of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) focused its biannual meeting in Amman this week on the urgent need to ramp up funding for the Agency amid an increased dependence of Palestine refugees on aid. As the United Nations General Assembly prepares to renew the Agency’s mandate for another three years, it has become crucial to ensure that the resources UNRWA receives match the expectations set in the mandate for a solid contribution to the right of Palestine refugees to a dignified life.

“An increasing number of Palestine refugees feel like they are hanging by a thread,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Lazzarini. “UNRWA is the most consistent source of support and safety to one of the region’s most underprivileged communities. While the Agency enjoys strong political support for its critical education, health, social protection and other services, its chronic underfunding makes one wonder how much longer we will continue to function with much less than what we need.”

Over the past months, UNRWA has recorded a sharp increase in overall needs of Palestine refugees amid global financial crises, high inflation, unemployment and poverty rates. As prices of basic commodities including food have skyrocketed, many Palestine refugees have become totally dependent on assistance from UNRWA. They struggle to make ends meet and bring food to the table.  

In Gaza, as the 15-year-long blockade continues, more people (or 1.1 million) now rely on food assistance from UNRWA. In 2007, only 800,000 people received food assistance. While rates of education are high, Gaza is home to the highest levels of unemployment among young people in the world. In Lebanon, Palestinians have hit rock bottom, with almost every Palestine refugee now living in poverty. In the occupied West Bank, Palestine refugees have endured the most violent year on record in more than a decade and a half. In Jordan, Palestine refugees are among the most to live the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 while in Syria people are resorting to going back and living in the rubble of their destroyed homes. Many are sleeping in the open because they cannot afford to live anywhere else.

“In today’s almost unlivable circumstances, Palestine refugees have nowhere else to turn to survive, but to UNRWA. The Agency has become their beacon, their last resort, especially in the absence of any political prospects for them. Their access to schools, healthcare and protection from violence and discrimination should not become a luxury. A dignified life is part and parcel of the commitment of the international community towards them through the mandate of UNRWA,” concluded the Commissioner-General.

-   ENDS    -

 

Notes to Editors

  • The UNRWA Advisory Commission is tasked with advising and assisting the Commissioner-General of UNRWA in carrying out the Agency’s mandate. Meeting twice a year, it discusses issues of importance to UNRWA operations.
  • During this AdCom meeting, the UNRWA Commissioner General and his team engaged with member states and host countries on:
    • The overall UNRWA funding situation
    • The need to stabilize funds including assessed contributions from the UN regular budget
    • Put in an urgent call for end-of-year financial support including to pay salaries for UNRWA staff in November and December

Highlights on UNRWA operations in the five areas and impact of underfunding:

  • In Gaza, UNRWA provides emergency food assistance to more than 1.1 million Palestine refugees. Delayed funding puts their lives at risk. This year, underfunding saw only 13,543 refugees receive cash assistance, compared to a target of 180,000 people.
  • In the West Bank, UNRWA provided emergency cash assistance totaling almost US$ 2 million to 3,509 poor refugee households, assisting more than 22,000 people.
  • In Syria and Lebanon, underfunding forced the agency to reduce the amount of cash assistance and the number of Palestine refugees reached.
  • In Jordan, affected by regional inflation and lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNRWA was forced to cancel catch-up classes to overcome learning losses for Palestine refugee children.

For more information on the AdCom, please click here.

Background Information: 

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 5.7 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.

For more information, please contact:

Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+962 (0)79 090 0140
Juliette Touma
UNRWA Director of Communications
Mobile: 
+972 54240 2753
Office: 
+962-79-867-4628