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Sweden increases assistance to Palestine refugees in the Middle East
Sweden is to increase its annual contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to US $ 36 million. This represents an additional SEK 18 million (USD 2 million). This does not include Sweden’s contribution to the UNRWA emergency appeal, which amounts to SEK 40 million (US$ 4.8 million) this year. The funds will be used by the UN Agency for its human development work in health, education, relief and social services in Jordan, Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian territory and Syria.
Announcing the increased contribution to journalists in Shu’fat refugee camp in Jerusalem, Sweden’s Consul General, Ann-Sofie Nilsson said: “Only 20 minutes away from the Old City, thousands of people are living under very difficult circumstances. Improved basic services such as healthcare and education are essential to create a better, brighter future for the Palestinian refugees. Therefore, Sweden has increased its funding to UNRWA this year to US$ 36 million. This reflects Sweden’s continued commitment to the Palestinian people.”
Director of UNRWA operations in the West Bank, Felipe Sanchez, thanked the government and people of Sweden. “In the West Bank we continue to work towards the human development for Palestine refugees. This is particularly the case given the turbulence and extremism that is spreading throughout the Middle East region.”
Sweden is the fourth largest bilateral humanitarian donor in the world, contributing more than US$ 750 million per year. Sweden has supported UNRWA since its inception and has constantly been among the Agency’s top donors in terms of funding volume. Between 1993 and 2014, the Swedish contribution to the UNRWA General Fund amounted to more than US$ 617 million.
On the occasion of the release of the annual contribution of 2015, Ms. Nilsson visited Shu’fat refugee camp in East Jerusalem to meet with beneficiaries in the camp.
Since 1 July 2014, Sweden has held the rotating chairmanship of the UNRWA Advisory Commission. The chairmanship is rotated every 12 months. The Advisory Commission provides advice to the UNRWA Commissioner-General and is composed of 27 members and three observers, all states or organisations.
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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