The European Union Contributes EUR 3 Million to Provide Life-saving Assistance for Palestine Refugees in Syria

08 February 2018

The European Union (EU) has contributed a total of EUR 3 million (approximately US$ 3.7 million) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in support of the Agency’s 2017 Syria Regional Appeal.

The donation will help fund emergency cash assistance for more than 16,000 female-headed households, allowing them to cover their most basic needs.

“As the conflict in Syria approaches its eighth year, it is important that we do not forget Palestine refugees, who have been disproportionally affected and the large majority of whom rely on UNRWA to meet their daily needs. Female-headed households, in particular, are struggling,” said Michael Ebye-Amanya, Deputy Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria:  “We thank to the EU for their continued support of this vulnerable group.”

The EU's support will also enable the Agency to enhance its preparedness and ability to respond to sudden emergencies, which is critical at a time of profound instability throughout the country. Finally, the funding, which is made available by the European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection department (ECHO), will support the sustainability of UNRWA protection work in Syria.

“The European Union assists the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in Syria via UNRWA, as it assists the most vulnerable Syrian population all over the country. Targeting of the most vulnerable is of utmost importance for our humanitarian mandate. This translates not only into a support to UNRWA focusing on emergency cash or food assistance, but also protection of sexual violence survivors and child protection programmes directly benefitting 75,000 people,” said the EU Humanitarian Aid's Syria Head of Office, Youcef Hammache.

The war in Syria has displaced about 60 per cent of the 438,000 Palestine refugees remaining in country. UNRWA provides them with a comprehensive package of assistance, including cash, food, non-food items, emergency health care and education, livelihoods and water, sanitation and health (WASH) services.

The EU is a long-standing partner of UNRWA and has generously supported the Agency’s emergency response to the needs of Palestine refugees from Syria. Since 2012, EU humanitarian aid has contributed more than EUR 27 million (approximately US$ 33 million) to the Agency’s Syria Regional Crisis Appeal.


About the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)

The European Union and its Member States are the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid.  Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity towards people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.

The European Commission ensures rapid and effective delivery of EU relief assistance through its two main instruments: humanitarian aid and civil protection.

The Commission, through its Directorate General for European Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Operations (ECHO), helps over 120 million victims of conflict and disasters every year.

With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, ECHO provides assistance to the most vulnerable people solely on the basis of humanitarian needs.

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:

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
UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless campaign in Gaza on 22 January 2018. © 2018 UNRWA Photo Rushdi Al Saraj
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