United States announces new US$ 13 million to support Palestine refugees affected by Syria conflict

23 July 2015
Palestine refugees in Yarmouk, Syria. © 2015 UNRWA Photo by Taghrid Mohamed

The United States Government is providing a new US$ 13 million contribution to the UNRWA Syria crisis response. The United States is the largest single-country UNRWA donor, and with this contribution, the U.S. total contribution to date towards the Agency’s 2015 Syria Emergency Appeal will be US$ 76.4 million. 

“The cumulative effects of four years of conflict mean the humanitarian crisis in Syria is more severe than ever. Fear, anxiety and despair are rampant,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl said. “At the same time, securing funding to support even the most basic needs of a desperate population remains a challenge. In this context, I thank the Government and people of the United States for being one of the Agency’s most reliable supporters.” 

US$ 9.1 million of the new contribution will support the Agency’s humanitarian work inside Syria, where an estimated 95 per cent of the 480,000 Palestine refugees remaining in Syria are fully dependent on UNRWA humanitarian assistance to meet their minimum food, shelter, health, and water and sanitation needs.

An additional US$ 3.9 million will support the humanitarian needs of the 45,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria (PRS) who have fled to Lebanon and the more than 15,500 PRS recorded with UNRWA in Jordan. PRS in Lebanon and Jordan face increasing poverty and vulnerability. PRS in Lebanon have little access to livelihood opportunities or public services, and UNRWA cash assistance represents the main source of income for over 95 per cent of PRS and the sole income for over 75 per cent of this especially vulnerable population. In Jordan, UNRWA cash assistance is the main source of income for PRS who struggle to meet their most basic needs, such as ensuring their children have enough to eat. Eighty-two per cent of PRS in Jordan have been assessed as ‘most vulnerable’, including 42 per cent assessed as ‘extremely vulnerable’. 

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard noted that continued contributions to the humanitarian response to the Syrian crisis are essential, saying, “It is vital that the international community works together to provide refugees from Syria the life-saving humanitarian aid they need; this includes aiding Palestinian refugees who have found their lives upended by the war in Syria. The United States has been a leader in these efforts, and this latest contribution to UNRWA in response to its Syria Emergency Appeal is one part of a greater effort to ensure the most vulnerable can meet their day-to-day needs.” 

The United States has contributed more than US$ 260 million to UNRWA emergency appeals for Syria since the crisis began in 2011, part of the more than US$ 4 billion total provided by the United States to assist those affected by the conflict in Syria over the past four years, more than any other single donor. 

UNRWA is appealing for US$ 415 million to meet the minimum needs of Palestine refugees affected by the Syria crisis in 2015. So far this year, the international community has pledged US$ 136 million towards the 2015 UNRWA Syria Emergency Appeal.  While this generous contribution from the United States will provide urgently needed emergency assistance for Palestine refugees affected by the Syria crisis, the UNRWA General Fund deficit still stands at US$ 101 million.

Background Information: 

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.

For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724