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Ministerial Meeting on UNRWA raises remarkable US$122 Million
On 27 September, the Foreign Ministers of Jordan, Sweden, Turkey, Japan and Germany, as well as the High Representative and Vice-President of the European Union, hosted a Ministerial Meeting in New York, with the aim of mobilising financial and political support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
The Ministerial Meeting raised a remarkable US$122 million, with Kuwait, the European Union, Germany, Norway, France, Belgium and Ireland announcing additional funding commitments. This meeting represented a crucial step in the efforts to overcome the Agency’s remaining shortfall of US$ 186 million and sustain UNRWA operations in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
The event was attended by Ministers and senior officials from a total of 34 Member States and organizations, including the League of Arab States, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation and the Islamic Development Bank. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, the President of the General Assembly, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA and two Palestine Refugee students also participated in the event.
The Commissioner-General, Mr Pierre Krähenbühl, thanked Member States for their extraordinary support: “Today, we witnessed a powerful moment of commitment and solidarity with Palestine refugees. I am very grateful to the co-Chairs for convening this important meeting and demonstrating the strength of collective action”.
UNRWA was confronted with a dramatic financial crisis when in January 2018 its largest donor announced a major reduction in contributions and the Agency’s shortfall reached an unprecedented US$446 million. The mobilization since then, including at this Ministerial meeting in New York, has brought the deficit down to US$64 million.
Mr Krähenbühl added: “I express my genuine appreciation for the generous funding announcements made by Kuwait, the European Union, Germany, Norway, France, Belgium and Ireland. The results of the New York meeting, added to the support received from other partners this year, represent a very significant achievement.”
During the meeting, UN Member States reaffirmed the fundamental rights of Palestine refugees under international law and obligations of the international community. Participants expressed strong political support for UNRWA, its mandate and staff, and its critical services to Palestine refugees. Additionally, they applauded UNRWA for its remarkable achievements, especially this last year, in funding diversification and improved efficiency of its programming.
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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