The United States contributes US$ 47.7 million to UNRWA for emergency response to Syria regional crisis

19 February 2016
Civilians receiving food assistance, Yalda, 14 February. © 2016 UNRWA

The United States is contributing US$ 47.7 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in response to the Agency’s 2016 Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal.

Of the total contribution, US$ 37.5 million will support the Agency’s emergency response activities inside Syria, where 450,000 Palestine refugees are estimated to remain. Over 60 per cent of Palestine refugees in Syria are internally displaced and an estimated 95 per cent are reliant on UNRWA for humanitarian assistance. This includes tens of thousands who are trapped in areas of active conflict, with extremely constrained access to humanitarian assistance.

US$ 10.2 million will go towards the Agency’s emergency interventions in Lebanon and Jordan. The vast majority of PRS in Lebanon and Jordan live a precarious, marginalized existence, unable to regularize their legal status or access civil registration procedures and basic social services. They are largely dependent on UNRWA for basic subsistence needs, including food and shelter, as well as basic education and health care.

Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary for the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, noted, “The UN organizations we fund and the local non-governmental organizations they work with to deliver assistance on the ground face threats from all sides. UNRWA’s staff has suffered more fatalities than any UN agency working inside Syria. We recognize the tremendous work that UNRWA staff members undertake on a daily basis to make sure that Palestinian refugees inside Syria and across the region receive food, medical care and other basics.”

“In the midst of this endless conflict, the humanitarian situation of Palestine refugees in Syria and of those who have fled to neighbouring countries remains very dire. Every single day, our staff witness the extreme suffering and acute needs of a community at breaking point,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl. “We remain deeply grateful to the United States, whose consistent and generous support continues to play a significant role in ensuring that the needs of the most vulnerable Palestine refugees affected by this devastating tragedy are met.”

The United States is the largest bilateral donor to UNRWA and has long been one of the Agency’s most reliable supporters. This latest commitment brings the total US contribution to the Agency’s 2016 needs to US$ 171.1 million.

In 2016, UNRWA is appealing for US$ 414 million to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria. Read the 2016 Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal

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.

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