Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Visits Gaza
The Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Martin Lidegaard, visited the Gaza Strip yesterday to see first-hand the destruction wrought by the summer’s conflict and hear about the long-term financial, humanitarian and political support necessary to help the people of Gaza rebuild.
Minister Lidegaard and the Danish delegation drove through the devastated Shejayeh neighbourhood and visited the UNRWA Collective Centre at Zaitoun Prep Girls’ School in Gaza Area. Zaitoun Prep Girls’ School currently hosts 1,642 of the more than 30,000 internally displaced persons still living in UNRWA facilities because their homes have been severely damaged or destroyed.
Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Robert Turner, who briefed the Minister at the Collective Centre, said: “We are grateful for continued support from Denmark and appreciate the Minister’s visit to see first-hand the situation on the ground. Financial contributions, attention and support are critical to families in Gaza being able to rebuild their lives, particularly with the winter approaching. However, sustainable recovery in Gaza requires far more than rebuilding what has been destroyed. Lifting the blockade and addressing Gaza’s many challenges are key elements to attaining self-sufficiency.”
Minister Lidegaard expressed support for UNRWA from the Government of Denmark and announced a donation of US$ 4.2 million to support Gaza, of which US$ 3.4 million will go to UNRWA. ”Today I have witnessed the massive damages on the ground caused by the 50-day conflict. The scope of the destruction is devastating and continues to affect thousands of lives. For children growing up in such challenging circumstances, it is important that they receive the support and assistance that they need. I am proud that Denmark is able to help UNRWA and provide them with vital support to ensure that Gaza’s children can attend school. I commend UNRWA for the invaluable work they have been carrying out during and in the aftermath of the conflict. I strongly encourage all parties to work towards lifting the blockade of Gaza. The movement of people and goods into and out of the Gaza will be an essential step in trying to ensure that the people of Gaza can return to their everyday lives.”
Denmark’s total contribution to UNRWA in 2014 currently stands at US$ 22.6 million.
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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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