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UAE funded food aid reaches Palestine refugees in Syria
UNRWA distributes food parcels to over 93,000 families during first round of assistance
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has started distributing food parcels to over 93,000 families Palestinian refugees in the Damascus area of Syria. This much-needed aid was made possible by the generous support and funding of the United Arab Emirates, which donated AED 55 million (US$ 15 million) in July 2014 to provide food assistance to conflict-affected Palestinian refugees in Syria.
The agreement between the UAE and UNRWA provides two rounds of critical food assistance to some of the 460,000 affected Palestinian refugees in Syria. With funding from the UAE, UNRWA has been able to procure and distribute over 630 metric tons of food to refugees thus far, with an upcoming round of distribution planned for this month.
It is a timely reminder of the deep and continuous suffering of the Palestinian refugees remaining in Syria, the vast majority whom now rely on UNRWA for their basic nutritional needs. They are experiencing chronic food insecurity as a result of the collapsed agricultural industry and soaring inflation, which reached more than 89 per cent in 2013. More than half of the Palestinian refugee population in Syria has been internally displaced, and most have lost family members, homes, incomes and livelihood. Unemployment across the country has reached 54 per cent and most refugees have exhausted any savings they may have previously had.
Palestinian refugees in Syria are now in their fourth winter of hardship. As families divert their incomes to provide adequate shelter, heating and warm clothing, food assistance provided by UNRWA, through the generous donations of the UAE, becomes even more critical to their welfare and resilience.
HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of International Cooperation and Development said: “The UAE remains supportive and committed to those in need, wherever they are today, and will continue to work with our international partners to provide support to host countries and host communities. UNRWA is an important partner in this endeavour and we look forward to working with them now and in the future.”
The Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Pierre Krähenbühl, expressed his appreciation for this funding, saying: “We are very grateful to the people and Government of the UAE for this food donation to Palestinian refugees in Syria where, due to the devastating armed conflict, food insecurity continues to rise. We take it as an expression of trust in UNRWA and the work carried out by our staff under difficult conditions, for the benefit of the Palestinian refugee population in Syria.”
Since 2012, the UAE has committed AED 755.5 million (US$ 205.7 million) to those displaced by conflict in Syria. In addition to financial assistance, the UAE supports a number of educational and health initiatives, including the establishment of a 10,000 person refugee camp and a field hospital in Jordan.
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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