Italy contributes EUR 1 million for food assistance to Palestine refugees in Syria

01 February 2016
Khan Dunoun, Syria. © 2015 UNRWA Photo by Taghrid Mohammad

The Government of Italy has donated EUR 1 million (US$ 1.09 million) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to support Palestine refugees in Syria, as they continue to cope with the worst humanitarian crisis in decades. As part of the assistance provided in response to the crisis in Yarmouk in April 2015, the Italian government was one of the first donors to support the Agency’s effort to assist vulnerable Palestine refugees with humanitarian food assistance.

Due to the ongoing conflict in Syria, the savings and coping mechanisms of Palestine refugees have all been exhausted, pushing countless families to reduce their food consumption and dietary diversity.

With food prices soaring, food assistance has become a critical relief intervention for the over 90 per cent of Palestine refugees in Syria who solely rely on UNRWA for support.

With the generous contribution from the Government of Italy, UNRWA was able to support up to 33,708 Palestine refugees with 8,427 family food parcels, 4,500 hygiene kits and additional life-sustaining food commodities to supplement their daily needs. The distribution was carried out by UNRWA through the 15 distribution points it maintains across the country, including 10 in Damascus and one each in Aleppo, Dera’a, Hama, Homs and Latakia – these points enable the Agency to reach most of the 450,000 Palestine refugees remaining in Syria.

Italy has long been one of the Agency’s most reliable donors. In 2015, Italy contributed EUR 8.75 million (US$ 9.56 million) to UNRWA, including EUR 4 million (US$ 4.36 million) for the Agency’s core programmes and services. In 2015, the Government of Italy donated EUR 1 million (US$ 1.09 million) in support of the Agency’s humanitarian response to the Yarmouk emergency.

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.