European Union provides timely EUR 20 million contribution to core UNRWA programmes

16 December 2016

The European Union (EU) has contributed an additional EUR 20 million in support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East’s (UNRWA) core programmes, including education, health, and relief and social services. This donation will make an important contribution to closing the 2016 shortfall and allow UNRWA to continue to support the needs of Palestine refugees in all of the Agency’s fields of operations.

For over four decades, the European Union has established itself as a key strategic partner for the Agency, supporting UNRWA in its efforts to help Palestine refugees achieve their full potential in human development despite their difficult circumstances.    

“I highly welcome this remarkable additional contribution by the European Union. It is a powerful sign of the EU's solidarity with Palestine refugees and generous support to UNRWA's vital role in an increasingly unstable Middle East. I value the trust placed in our Agency and commit to ensuring effective use of this critical support," expressed UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl.

The European Union continues to be the largest multilateral donor to the Agency’s core programmes and services. This latest donation comes in addition to the European Union’s EUR 82 million annual contribution to the Agency’s Programme Budget, and brings its total contribution to UNRWA – including contributions to projects and emergency appeals – to EUR 138.5 million in 2016.

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
Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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