EU provides additional EUR 30 million to support Palestine refugees through UNRWA

01 October 2015

In the context of the efforts to help addressing the plight of the refugees in the wider Middle East region, the European Union (EU) announced that it will support Palestine refugees with fresh funding totalling EUR 30 million. This new assistance package announced at the visibility events in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York brings the total EU support provided to UNRWA in 2015 up to EUR 125 million. 

As a first step, the money will support core UNRWA programmes, including education and health care. It comes in direct response to the deficit in the Agency’s core programme budget, which had risked a delay in opening UNRWA schools on time for the current school year. To that end, the EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn and UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl signed an agreement yesterday for the first EUR 10 million, with an additional EUR 10 million to follow in October. The package also includes a further EUR 10 million contribution to enable UNRWA to improve the education, health care and livelihoods of the 480,000 Palestine refugees living in Syria. This support will enhance their resilience and staying power, thus reducing pressures for them to flee to the neighbouring countries and on to Europe.

Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn commented: "The EU is the largest and most predictable donor to UNRWA in its invaluable work with Palestinian refugees, providing them with access to primary education, health and social services, even under very harsh conditions. This is an investment in their future and at the same time an investment in the stability in Europe's neighbourhood. This additional contribution will also allow UNRWA to bridge its financing gap in 2015 and to move forward in the implementation of its reform process.”

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl said: “This important and generous contribution from the EU means that we will be able to overcome our funding shortfall for the year, allowing us to concentrate our efforts on ensuring the long-term financial stability of UNRWA so that our core programmes are never again put at risk. I am deeply grateful for this latest commitment from the EU, which has long been a valued and reliable partner of UNRWA in providing for the needs of Palestine refugees. This support is crucial in ensuring that Palestine refugees will continue to have access to quality education, health care and life-saving services until a just solution for their plight is achieved.” 

The EU-UNRWA Partnership

The EU is the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees, providing crucial and reliable support to UNRWA since 1971. Between 2007 and 2014, the EU contributed over EUR 1 billion (US$ 1.44 billion) in support of UNRWA, including EUR 809 million for the Agency’s core programmes and services. In addition, the EU has generously contributed to UNRWA humanitarian emergency appeals and projects in response to various crises and specific needs across the region. EU Member States provide additional crucial support to the Agency. The partnership between the EU 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. In June this year, the EU contributed EUR 82 million towards the Agency’s core programme budget.

To learn more about the EU-UNRWA Partnership, its nature and its achievements, please consult the EU-UNRWA Partnership leaflet available in English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Polish and Arabic.

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.

For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724