EU Commissioner Stefan Fule signs €20 million contribution to UNRWA

04 November 2010

Jerusalem

Margot Ellis and Commissioner FuleThe European Union and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) signed a financing agreement of €20 million towards UNRWA‘s General Fund in support of the Agency’s core programme activities in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

The agreement was signed today between the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, Mr Štefan Füle and UNRWA’s Deputy Commissioner-General, Mrs Margot Ellis, during the former‘s first official visit to the region.

Commissioner Füle said during the signing ceremony that "the continued European Union support to UNRWA is an essential element of the EU strategy to bring peace and prosperity to the region. Today we have given an additional €20 million to UNRWA‘s regular budget because we want to make sure that all Palestinian refugees will continue to receive access to education, health and other social services. In light of the ever-growing needs of the Palestinian refugees across the region we would also like to encourage other donors to support UNRWA in pursuing its mission, especially with regards to the most vulnerable people among the refugee population."

Deputy Commissioner-General Mrs Margot Ellis noted that "this additional contribution demonstrates the EU‘s longstanding partnership with UNRWA and will enable the Agency to take a crucial step forward in ensuring that vital services to Palestinian refugees are provided in 2010."

The new donation from the EU comes in addition to a contribution of €66 million at the start of 2010, aiming to allow UNRWA to continue providing health, education and social protection services to the Palestinian refugee population.

The earlier donation represents the annual payment made by the EU to the Agency under its multi-year agreement. This agreement is set to be renewed at the end of 2010. 

Background

UNRWA provides assistance, protection and advocacy for some 4.7 million registered Palestine refugees in the region, pending a solution to their plight. The Agency‘s services encompass education, health care, social safety-net, camp infrastructure and improvement, community support, microfinance and emergency response, including in times of armed conflict.

EU flagThe European Union constitutes the largest provider of international assistance to Palestinian refugees. This funding takes different forms: an annual contribution to the UNRWA General Fund as well as humanitarian assistance and support for specific projects. Moreover, the EU has provided in recent years support for UNRWA‘s management reforms. Over the last decade, the EU alone has provided more than €1 billion of support to the Agency.

Contacts

Commissioner Füle‘s Spokesperson: Angela Filote, +32 49 895 1968 [email protected]

For more information on the EU‘s assistance to oPt: Antonia Zafeiri, +972 (0)54 802 4915 [email protected]

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 5.4 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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