New Zealand Renews Longstanding Multiyear Support to UNRWA

16 September 2022

EAST JERUSALEM - 16 September 2022: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and New Zealand have signed a three-year agreement (2022-2024) totaling NZD 3 million (US$ 1.8 million) to support core UNRWA programmes for Palestine refugees across the Middle East.

This agreement builds on a long-standing partnership between UNRWA and New Zealand, has enabled generations of Palestine refugees have had access to social services, health care and fundamental human rights as well as received vital humanitarian support in times of crises. This renewed multiyear commitment provides flexible, reliable, and predictable funding that enables the Agency to continue service delivery to Palestine refugees, including education to 550,000 Palestine refugee students who are returning to 710 UNRWA schools across the Middle East over the next few weeks.

Special Representative Lewis reaffirmed New Zealand’s commitment to UNRWA saying “Despite recent challenges posed by COVID-19, UNRWA has shown that it has the ability to adapt and to continue making a positive, concrete difference in the lives of the people it serves. We are also encouraged to see UNRWA’s ongoing respect for UN values and commitment to the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.”

Expressing her appreciation, UNRWA Director of External Relations and Communications, Ms. Alrifai said: “UNRWA is very grateful to the Government of New Zealand for its continued trust and confidence in the Agency to deliver quality services to Palestine refugees. We rely on our strongest partners to provide predictable funding in the form of multiyear, flexible, support to our core programming, and New Zealand has consistently proven its willingness to respond to our needs. This genuine interest in the wellbeing of Palestine refugees is a proof that solidarity defies distance!”

New Zealand has been a dedicated donor to UNRWA since 1951, providing consistent levels of funding to the Programme Budget through multiyear agreements, as well as ad hoc support to the Emergency Appeals.

Through this new funding, New Zealand is contributing directly to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Poverty eradication and respect for human rights, central pillars of the SDGs, are at the core of the Agency’s human development, humanitarian and protection work. By investing in the human capital of Palestine refugees, UNRWA actively contributes to the realization of the 2030 Agenda. It is thanks to the enduring support of donors like New Zealand that UNRWA can provide vital services to Palestine refugees across the Middle East in the face of continuous challenges. 


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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 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations, namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. Thousands of Palestine refugees who lost both their homes and livelihood because of the 1948 conflict have remained displaced and in need of significant support for over seventy years. UNRWA helps them achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.

For more information, please contact:

Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
+962 (0)79 090 0140
Juliette Touma
UNRWA Director of Communications
+972 54240 2753