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United States Announces Additional Support for Palestine Refugees
Humanitarian Assistance Comes as U.S., UNRWA Sign Official Framework Agreement
Today, the United States announced that it is contributing an additional US$135.8 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In April, the U.S. government restored its support for the Agency, providing an initial $150 million to the UN agency providing life-saving services to eligible registered Palestine refugees across the Middle East. The United States also provided nearly $33 million in humanitarian assistance to UNRWA in May in response to the violence in the West Bank and Gaza. The funding announcement comes alongside the United States and UNRWA signing a Framework for Cooperation that establishes shared goals and priorities in support of humanitarian assistance, human development, and protection of Palestine refugees.
“The signing of the U.S.-UNRWA Framework and additional support demonstrates we once again have an ongoing partner in the United States that understands the need to provide critical assistance to some of the region’s most vulnerable refugees,” stated UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.
The additional funding will continue to support the core budget of UNRWA -- the majority of which funds the operation of more than 700 schools educating over half a million children and 140 primary health clinics providing 8.5 million patient consultations a year -- as well as emergency appeals to respond to dire humanitarian challenges in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank (including in East Jerusalem) and Gaza. These funds support food, emergency cash assistance, emergency health, mental health and psychosocial support, education in emergencies, protection, water and sanitation, and COVID-19 response.
Frameworks for cooperation are the traditional mechanism by which the United States and international agencies establish shared goals and priorities. The agreement between the UNRWA and the United States reaffirms both parties’ commitment to the United Nations’ humanitarian principles, including the principle of neutrality.
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 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank 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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