Italy Makes Multiple Contributions to UNRWA Operations in Gaza and the West Bank

20 December 2018

The Government of Italy contributed EUR 2 million to UNRWA health services in Gaza and EUR 2 million to UNRWA food programmes in the West Bank and Gaza.

These vital funds were disbursed rapidly in response to the Agency’s unprecedented budget deficit. In the West Bank, some EUR 300,000 were funneled to the UNRWA Emergency Food Assistance programme for Bedouin-herder communities and the emergency cash programme.

This critical funding will enable Palestine refugees in the West Bank and Gaza to meet their basic food needs, and provide them with crucial livelihood support. Some 37,000 food insecure Bedouin Palestine refugees would benefit by this food aid funding. This contribution by the Government of Italy comes in a period of grave threat to communities of Bedouin herders in the West Bank. The village of Khan Al Ahmar Abu el Hilu is an example as it has seen significant unrest as the Israeli Supreme Court upheld demolition orders on the village, located in the E1 corridor in Jerusalem. Food security among Bedouin and Herder communities has increased, with levels reaching more than 60 per cent among some communities.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl highlighted the importance of these contributions: “We thank the Government of Italy for its timely and critical contributions. Not only does this funding enable UNRWA to continue vital service provision, the timely manner in which these contributions were delivered allowed for the continuation of the programs for the benefit of UNRWA beneficiaries.”

Palestine refugees in the West Bank face increasing access restrictions and levels of food insecurity in which 15.1 per cent of Palestine refugees are food insecure. Given this, the contribution of EUR 300,000 to the West Bank will provide support to around 37,000 Bedouin and herder individuals living in Area C as well as 400 households benefiting from the emergency cash assistance programme. In Gaza, the contribution will enable food parcel distribution to more than 225,000 Palestine refugees who fall under the poverty line, who live on less than US$ 1.74 a day. UNRWA provides critical humanitarian services to more than 925,000 Palestine refugees who call the besieged enclave home.    

The Government of Italy’s second contribution of EUR 2 million towards the UNRWA health programme in Gaza will enable the Agency to continue to provide comprehensive primary healthcare to Palestine refugees in three health centres during 2019. This will enable an estimated total of 400,000 medical consultations. More than 1.3 million Palestine refugees in Gaza benefit from UNRWA healthcare services and some 3.36 million medical consultations were recorded in January-October 2018.

The Government of Italy is strong supporter of the Agency, with its total contributions to date surpassing EUR 90 million. In 2018 alone, Italy’s support of almost EUR 15 million enabled UNRWA to continue to provide vital services to Palestine refugees, as the Agency faced the largest budget deficit since its inception.

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.

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