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Finland Sign a Multiyear Agreement in support of Palestine Refugees
The Government of Finland and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) signed a multiyear agreement in renewed support of Palestine refugees across the Agency’s five fields of operation. This non-earmarked contribution to the UNRWA programme budget amounts to a total of EUR 20 million over four years through 2022 and represents a renewal of the existing multiyear agreement between Finland and the Agency.
In attendance to formalize the agreement were Her Excellency Anna-Kaisa Heikkinen, Ambassador and Head of the Finnish Representative Office in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) and the Chief of the UNRWA Donor Relations Division, Mr. Marc Lassouaoui.
Ms. Heikkinen noted Finland was a longstanding supporter of UNRWA and added: “The UNRWA contribution to human development and humanitarian services in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria is absolutely crucial. This goes for the more than 500.000 children and youngsters in UNRWA schools, and this goes for the more than 1 million recipients of UNRWA food aid in Gaza – and much more. We also acknowledge the very important role of the Agency’s services in supporting stability in the region.”
Mr. Lassouaoui praised Finland for the contribution and noted: “I express deep gratitude for the long steadfast partnership shown to UNRWA by the Government of Finland. Last year was one of the most fiscally threatening periods the Agency has faced in its history. This multiyear contribution provides vital and reliable funding in a time of great instability. It also supports the Agency in the achievement of the Resource Mobilization Strategy (RMS) objectives of sustainable and predictable funding to the Agency.”
Finland is an established partner of UNRWA, focusing its support on the Agency’s Programme Budget. Contributions to the Agency from Finland in 2018 alone totaled US$ 5.5 million. Finland is also an active member of the Advisory Commission to UNRWA. In November 2018 Finland were nominated to chair the Advisory Commission Sub-Committee, working with two Vice-Chairs to assist the Commission in the fulfilment of its guidance to the Commissioner-General.
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.
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