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Saudi Arabia signs US$ 111.5 million agreement with UNRWA
The Government of Saudi Arabia has signed seven agreements totalling US$ 111.5 million in assistance for Palestine refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The signing ceremony, which took place in Amman, was attended by Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) Vice Chairman and Managing Director H.E. Eng. Yousef Ibrahim Al-Bassam and UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl.
H.E. Eng. Al-Bassam commented: “The government of Saudi Arabia has long recognized the vital role played by UNRWA in bringing dignity to the refugees of Palestine. This is why the Kingdom stands at the forefront of the international community by providing support to the Agency so it can continue to respond to the needs of Palestine refugees.”
Mr. Krähenbühl said: “The fact that the total sum of these agreements represents one of the largest ever signed with one of the Agency’s principal donors speaks volumes to the increasing suffering of Palestine refugees across the region, as blockade, illegal occupation and civil war continue to take their toll. It also speaks to the generosity of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its people, who remain resolute in their support for Palestine refugees. On behalf of the Agency and the people we work for, the Palestine refugees, I extend my heartfelt thanks to the Kingdom.”
The contributions cover all five fields of UNRWA operations, with US$ 10 million for Palestine refugees affected by the conflict in Syria, whether they are in Syria itself or in neighboring Jordan and Lebanon; US$ 15 million for the continued reconstruction of the Nahr el-Bared camp in Lebanon; US$ 74 million for Palestine refugees in Gaza to repair their homes damaged during last summer’s conflict, and in support of health and education programmes in Gaza; and US$ 12.5 million for rehabilitation and reconstruction of schools and shelters in the West Bank. This latest agreement brings total contributions from Saudi Arabia through SFD to nearly half a billion dollars since 1994, with Saudi Arabia now the Agency’s third-largest donor for the second year running.
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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