Sweden donates USD 2.3 million to UNRWA's Gaza emergency response

23 November 2012

23 November 2012

The Government of Sweden has donated USD 2.3 million (SEK 15 million) to UNRWA’s emergency response in the coastal enclave following last week’s escalation of violence. The funding will help UNRWA provide urgent assistance to thousands of Gazans affected by the conflict.

Read more: Emergency in Gaza

During the recent escalation of violence, approximately 1,500 buildings in Gaza were damaged and 231 homes were completely destroyed, while civilian casualties stand at a minimum of 140 (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs). This week, UNRWA provided mattresses, blankets, and hygiene kits to nearly 12,000 Gazans who fled their homes and sought refuge in the Agency’s school buildings. UNRWA also continued its regular provision of food aid and medical assistance to up to 800,000 refugees in Gaza.

The USD 2.3 million contributed by Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) comes in response to an urgent funding call to UNRWA’s donors for over USD 14 million, to provide for the immediate needs of Gazans. The funding is needed to provide families who fled their homes during the violence with emergency aid: food and cash assistance, mattresses, blankets, and kits containing soap and other household necessities. The urgent repair of refugee homes, as well as UNRWA food distribution centres and clinics that were damaged, is a high priority. The provision of medical supplies and fuel and the removal of waste and rubble are also crucial.

“The people of Gaza paid a heavy price over the last few days of conflict, and we’re working hard to provide the displaced, the needy, and the injured with urgent support”, said Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza Robert Turner.

“I want to thank Sweden for this very rapid response to our call for funds. I hope that other donors will follow suit and allow us to provide the emergency assistance that Gazans so desperately need.”

“We obviously want to respond to this call for urgent humanitarian funds”, Swedish Consul General Axel Wernhoff said. “Over the last few days, we saw UNRWA spring into action to give essential help to a population under fire.

“It’s our responsibility to ensure that the needs of civilians in Gaza continue to be met during this extraordinarily difficult time.”

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Background information

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, microfinance and emergency assistance.

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, supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the budget deficit stands at USD 21 million.

To find out more about the situation in Gaza and UNRWA’s emergency funding needs, visit www.unrwa.org/gaza.

For more information, please contact:

Chris Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
[email protected]
Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724
[email protected]