COVID-19 solidarity response fund distributes US$ 5 million to UNRWA COVID-19 flash appeal

25 August 2020

The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization (WHO), powered by the United Nations Foundation,  recently contributed US$ 5 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in support of the Agency’s emergency responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in Gaza, West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

“I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to WHO colleagues both at the Headquarters and Regional Office for East Mediterranean, as well as the UN Foundation for this generous contribution to support the Agency’s ongoing effort to respond to COVID-19,” said Dr Akihiro Seita, Director of Health of UNRWA. “This contribution enables our continued efforts in all five fields including procurement of medicines in urgent need, hospitalization support, isolation and quarantine centers support and provision of personal protective equipment to our frontline health staff at 141 health centres, in order to protect some 5.6 million Palestine refugees that we serve,” Dr. Seita added.

The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO, supports the WHO-led global effort to track and understand the spread of the virus; to ensure patients get the care they need and frontline workers get essential supplies and information; and to accelerate research and development of a vaccine and treatments for all who need them.  WHO is a strong partner of UNRWA and this generous contribution will support the Agency’s provision of vital services across the Middle East.

“More than half a million people from over 100 countries have stepped up to support the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund,” said Elizabeth Cousens, President & CEO of the UN Foundation. “With this disbursement, their incredible generosity will help protect vulnerable refugee populations from COVID-19. The sustained solidarity shown by people around the world is remarkable, and I am proud to see the UN Foundation support the Agency’s vital work at this critical time.”

To date, the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund has raised over US$ 233 million from more than 565,000 individuals, companies, and philanthropies in over 100 countries. More than US$ 191 million has already been disbursed to WHO and its partner agencies, including the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), UNICEF and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI). 

The Fund remains the first, fastest and only way for companies, organizations and individuals to contribute directly to critical global response efforts led by WHO. Allocation decisions for the use of the Fund’s resources are made by WHO in line with the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan.

WHO is a strong partner of UNRWA and this generous contribution supports the Agency’s provision of vital services to Palestine refugees across the Middle East.

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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 5.6 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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For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
+962 (0)79 090 0140