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Saudi Arabia donates US$ 86 million to support UNRWA projects in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon
29 May 2013
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), has donated US$ 86 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) for projects in the West Bank, Lebanon and Gaza. The three agreements were signed in Riyadh by SFD Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Yousef Al Bassam and UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi.
The first agreement worth US$ 14 million is for five projects in the West Bank, including the reconstruction and equipping of Hebron Health Centre, Aroub Boys School, Ein Sultan School, Balata Boys School, and the reconstruction and rehabilitation of 930 housing units. The second agreement worth US$54.5 million represents one of Saudi Arabia’s contributions to the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) ‘Programme for the Reconstruction of Gaza’: it covers the reconstruction and rehabilitation of more than 1,000 housing units and the construction, equipping and furnishing of six schools. The third and final agreement worth US$ 17.5 million includes US$7.5 million to improve the living conditions in Ein el-Hilweh Camp, South Lebanon, and US$10 million towards the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared Camp in North Lebanon which will raise the total donation of Saudi Arabia for Nahr el Bared to US$ 35 million.
“Each of these agreements is valuable,” accepting the contribution, Commissioner-General of UNRWA Filippo Grandi said. It is well known that the infrastructure of our refugee camps in the West Bank needs attention. This is more true of camps in Lebanon like Ein el-Helweh. It is also clear that the huge Nahr el-Bared camp rebuilding project desperately needs more funding, and that Gaza has multiple needs as it continues to face a blockade which paralyses most of its economic activity. We and the refugees we serve are immensely grateful to the Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques for providing the necessary direction to the concerned government agencies to help UNRWA in this open-handed way.”
UNRWA’s Commissioner-General was joined by the Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza Robert Turner who gave a detailed presentation on UNRWA’s Gaza recovery plan.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the SFD is one of UNRWA’s major donors and the foremost Arab donor. Projects funded by Saudi Arabia have included contributions to the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon, support to UNRWA core activities in health, education and relief and social services, as well as the flagship Saudi project to rehouse Palestine refugees in Rafah, phase I of which was inaugurated in February this year.
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UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency‘s General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary donor contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 66.9 million.
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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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