The EU Contributes an Additional EUR 9.5 Million in Support of Palestine Refugees

10 October 2017

The European Union (EU) has signed an important additional contribution of EUR 9.5 million to the 2017 Programme Budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in response to a call to donors to help close a shortfall that could impact its key services such as education and health-care.

The announcement was made during a meeting on 20 September between UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl and EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. This contribution comes in addition to the disbursement earlier this year of EUR 82 million to the UNRWA Programme Budget.

The new contribution will help preserve access to education for 500,000 children, provide primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients and assistance to over 250,000 acutely vulnerable Palestine refugees.

The UNRWA Commissioner-General expressed his deep appreciation for the EU's trust and support: “I am very grateful for the European Union’s partnership with UNRWA and commitment towards Palestine refugees at this critical time. This generous additional contribution is highly valued and will make a big difference.”

The EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn said: “This substantial additional contribution once again reaffirms the European Union's longstanding commitment to UNRWA and the continuity of its essential work in service of Palestine refugees. The EU calls on other donors for greater solidarity and burden-sharing to ensure that UNRWA receives adequate resources to protect and maintain its core functions. Adequate and predictable funding requires a joint effort. We expect all to engage in this way to enable the Agency to continue its tasks without disruption and deliver on its efficiency reform plans.”

In June of this year, the EU and UNRWA signed the 2017-2020 Joint Declaration, strengthening the political nature of the EU-UNRWA partnership and reaffirming the European Union’s commitment to promoting the rights of Palestine refugees and supporting the long-term financial stability of the Agency in a context of intensified budgetary constraints and operational challenges. 

EU and UNRWA: Together for Palestine Refugees

Since 1971, the European Union and UNRWA have maintained a strategic partnership governed by the shared objective to support the human development, humanitarian and protection needs of Palestine refugees and promote stability in the Middle East. Today, the European Union is the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees. This reliable and predictable support from the European Union enables UNRWA to provide core services to more than 5 million Palestine refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, including quality education for roughly half a million children and primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients. Collectively, the EU and its Member States are also among the largest contributors to the Agency’s humanitarian emergency appeals and projects in response to various crises and specific needs across the region. The partnership between the European Union and UNRWA has allowed millions of Palestine refugees to be better educated, live healthier lives, access employment opportunities and improve their living conditions, thus contributing to the development of the entire region.

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:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)258 90724
Shadi Othman
The Office of the EU Representative
Mobile: 
+972 (0)59 967 3958
Office: 
+972 (0)59 967 3958
Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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