06 February 2019

The European Union (EU) has contributed EUR 12 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in support of humanitarian health programmes in the Gaza strip. The Agency operates 22 primary healthcare centres across Gaza.

Guided by the Sustainable Development Goals on health and standards of the World Health Organization (WHO), UNRWA delivers basic health services and is responsible for contributing to a healthy living environment for Palestine refugees in Gaza. UNRWA recorded some 4 million patient visits in its health centres in 2018.

The EU’s humanitarian contribution, which was provided under the title “Integrated Emergency Healthcare Support to Vulnerable Palestine Refugees”, will enable UNRWA to sustain the provision of its vital health-care services at the Agency health centres across the Gaza Strip, especially given the increasing demand for health services due to mass demonstrations that have taken place along the security fence separating Israel from the Gaza Strip since 30 March, 2018 and which have resulted in thousands of casualties. Over a period of 17 months, the contribution will support the provision of medicines and medical supplies to UNRWA health centres in Gaza, as well as help covering the costs of hospital treatment Palestine refugees receive outside UNRWA health centres.

UNRWA Director of Operations in Gaza, Matthias Schmale, expressed his sincere gratitude for the EU’s critical support to the Agency: “Over the past months, Gaza has experienced the worst medical emergency in decades. Thanks to EU support, UNRWA medical staff have been able to play a substantive role in the response, including by providing critical postoperative care, physiotherapy management, and by collaborating with other health actors to ensure best possible medical coverage for critically injured patients.”

The Agency provides primary health services to approximately 1.5 million Palestine refugees in Gaza. This includes both preventive care and curative care throughout 22 health centres spread across the embattled enclave. Alongside personalized maternal health and family planning available in all health centres, UNRWA implements a Family Health Team (FHT) approach. Families are registered and assigned to a team of health professionals consisting of a doctor, nurse and midwife. This team is responsible for all health care needs for the family through all stages of life. Furthering this holistic approach to health care, the Agency provides vital clinical and laboratory services.  In addition, radiology is available at six health centres, while dental services are available in 22 centres.

The European Union is the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees. Over the past five decades, the European Union has been a steadfast supporter to UNRWA in its five fields of operations.

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