Saudi Arabia donates US$ 35 million to UNRWA

12 August 2015

Saudi Arabia this week communicated to UNRWA that it has approved an assistance package worth US$ 35 million dollars. The majority will be spent on education and health in Gaza, on upgrading schools and health centres in Jordan, on the construction of three health centres in the West Bank and on maintaining buildings across the areas where UNRWA operates.  It is estimated that US$ 19 million will contribute to reducing the current financial deficit of US$101 million in UNRWA’s General Fund for core services such as education and health.

Making the announcement, His Excellency Engineer Yousef Al-Bassam, Managing Director of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), said the donation comes in response to UNRWA’s deepening financial crisis.

“The SFD along with the people and government of Saudi Arabia will not sit by whilst the gains made by UNRWA face being unraveled because of a lack funding. The closure of schools for half a million Palestinian children would be a catastrophe. I hope the rest of UNRWA’s steadfast partners will take heart in the continued confidence placed in the Agency by the Kingdom with this latest contribution, and step forward with their own pledges to keep UNRWA’s operations going.”  

UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Pierre Krähenbühl, paid tribute to this timely and generous contribution.  “I am deeply grateful to the government and people of Saudi Arabia. At this time of severe crisis, this donation is received as a strong message of solidarity towards Palestine refugees and UNRWA. Education for Palestine refugee boys and girls is a right that we defend with our utmost energy. I must state again that the risk of a delay to our school year remains real unless we can cover our 101M US$ deficit in coming days.”

In May this year, UNRWA signed agreements with the Saudi Fund for Development worth US$ 111.5 million, bringing to US$ 146.5 million the total of the SFD’s donations to UNRWA so far for 2015. Saudi Arabia is the third largest donor to UNRWA.