EU contributes €66 million to UNRWA, reiterates calls for Gaza crossings to be fully open

06 February 2009

6 February 2009


The European Commission has today provided a contribution of €66 million to the General Fund of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Mr. Christian Berger, the European Commission Representative in Jerusalem, today signed the agreement along with Mr. Filippo Grandi, UNRWA‘s Deputy Commissioner General, in the main UNRWA Jerusalem warehouse, against a backdrop of in-kind donations destined for Gaza. Both Mr. Berger and Mr. Grandi used the opportunity to express grave concerns regarding the humanitarian situation in the Gaza strip, noting that the situation cannot be adequately addressed until all crossings into the beleaguered Gaza strip are opened to meet the basic needs of the people of Gaza.

The €66 million contribution from the European Union will go to UNRWA‘s core budget, the General Fund, helping to pay salaries for UNRWA’s teachers, doctors and social workers and enabling UNRWA to maintain delivery of essential services to Palestine refugees throughout Gaza, West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Mr. Grandi expressed his gratitude for the EU’s funding, noting that “as the Gaza crisis has shown, the Agency and its services are absolutely crucial to Palestine refugees, and contributions to its core budget allow UNRWA to deliver these services effectively.” Mr. Grandi said that “the human development needs of Palestine refugees throughout the region continue to increase”, highlighting that, in addition to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza, “refugees in the West Bank are being subjected to yet another year of debilitating closures, and over 20,000 refugees remain homeless in northern Lebanon as a consequence of the destruction of Nahr El Bared Camp in 2008”.

In respect of the blockade that has been in place for over 20 months in Gaza, Mr. Berger said "I cannot stress enough how vital it is for crossings into Gaza to be fully opened," echoing recent comments by Marc Otte, the European Union‘s Special Representative to the Middle East peace process, that Gaza would otherwise continue to resemble "hell". "I also want to pay tribute to the work of UNRWA, not only through the recent crisis, but also as it commemorates the 60th anniversary of its foundation this year. UNRWA has provided both a lifeline and dignity to generations of refugees. Only when there is a just and lasting peace to this conflict will UNRWA finally be able to say that their job is done – and until that moment, the European Union will continue to support their work."

Since 1971 the European Union has regularly supported UNRWA, becoming its largest multi-lateral donor. For the period 2007-2010, the European Commission has pledged to provide €264 million to UNRWA’s General Fund and has contributed over €73 million to UNRWA‘s emergency appeals for humanitarian assistance in the West Bank and Gaza, through the Commission‘s humanitarian department, ECHO. This financial support, when combined with contributions from individual EU Member States, represents more than half of UNRWA‘s total budget.
For more information on the EU‘s assistance
to the occupied Palestinian territory:
Alix de Mauny, + 972 (0)54 802 4915  For more information on UNRWA:
Chris Gunness, +97 2(0)54 240 2659

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 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank 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:

Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
Help send a Palestine refugee child to school