Government of Austria Signs Agreements for EUR 7.7 Million to Support UNRWA Programme Budget and Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal

20 July 2020
Austrian Representative Astrid Wein and UNRWA Officer in Charge, External Relations and Communications Department, Arabic Language Spokesperson, Sami Mshasha, sign contribution agreements. © 2020 UNRWA photo by Marwan Baghdadi

Today, the Government of Austria signed a multi-year agreement (MYA) for 2020-2022 amounting to a total of EUR 5.7 million with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This MYA will support the UNRWA Health Programme in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). In addition, the parties signed a EUR 2 million agreement towards services under the Agency’s Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal in 2020.

The contribution from Austria for the UNRWA Health Programme will support the protection of Palestine refugees’ health and will reduce their disease burden. Funds will go towards ensuring adequate and timely availability of essential medicines and supplies, as well as educational materials in UNRWA health centres and clinics in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Austria’s contribution to the Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal will benefit the UNRWA cash assistance programme for the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in Syria. It will help ensure that approximately 18,000 Palestine refugees meet their basic needs. Some 91 per cent of the 438,000 Palestine refugees who remain in Syria live in absolute poverty. More than 125,000 of them have been identified as extremely vulnerable. As of June 28, only 33 per cent of the Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal is funded.

“As a longstanding partner, Austria recognizes the high urgency of further and predictable multi-year support to UNRWA relief programmes. With our most recent contribution, we aim to strengthen the resilience of Palestinian refugees by ensuring their access to basic services. This comes at an important moment, as the COVID-19 pandemic translates into further hardship and challenges for the already dire living conditions in the West Bank, in Gaza and in Syria. We appreciate UNRWA’s role and professionalism in providing the required support to Palestinian refugees where it is most needed in times of crisis,” said Astrid Wein, the Austrian Representative in Ramallah.

“On behalf of the Agency, I thank and commend the Austrian Government for these two timely and generous contributions and for entering into a first ever multi-year agreement with UNRWA. We hope that more countries will follow Austria’s example and make the Agency’s funding more predictable,” said Sami Mshasha, Officer in Charge, External Relations and Communications Department, Arabic language spokesperson.

Austria is a long-standing supporter of UNRWA, and especially of the Agency’s health programme. The Austrian Government is entering into its first multi-year agreement with the Agency today.

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 5.6 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
Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
+962 (0)79 090 0140