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United States contributes US$ 20 million to core UNRWA services
The United States has announced a new contribution of US$ 20 million to ensure UNRWA can continue providing education, health, relief and social services that meet the basic human needs of Palestine refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza. UNRWA approached the United States to provide an earlier than planned contribution in view of delayed anticipated income from other sources and the lack of UNRWA cash reserves. The imminent funding shortfall would have impacted the Agency's ability to provide critical humanitarian assistance to Palestine refugee communities.
Speaking in Washington, Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary of Population, Refugees, and Migration, affirmed the United States’ commitment to supporting UNRWA, but noted growing alarm over the Agency’s worsening financial crisis, “The United States remains committed to supporting UNRWA, as is evidenced by the timeliness and the magnitude of our contributions to both the General Fund and to the Agency's important emergency appeals. We are deeply concerned by the Agency’s fragile financial situation.”
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl thanked the government and people of the United States: “We are very grateful for this additional contribution, which will help UNRWA bridge a cash flow gap and maintain vital services to some of the most affected communities in the Middle East. Once again, the United States has been ready to support UNRWA and Palestine refugees when help is needed the most.”
The United States has now contributed more than US$ 183 million to UNRWA towards its 2015 appeals, including US$ 80 million to the General Fund for core services, US$ 38 million for the UNRWA emergency response in Gaza, more than US$ 63 million for the emergency response in Syria and US$ 2 million for relief work in Nahr el-Bared camp in Lebanon. The United States is the largest bi-lateral UNRWA donor.
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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