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UNRWA announces new Saudi Fund projects in the West Bank
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the West Bank announced last week a donation of US$ 32 million provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) to address several infrastructure needs in UNRWA schools and health centres in the West Bank.
The announcement ceremony was held in Aida camp in Bethlehem in the presence of the Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Scott Anderson, representatives of the PLO Department of Refugee Affairs (DORA) and members of the Camp Service Committee for Aida Camp.
Remarking on the announcement from SFD to the Palestinian people, Mr. Anderson noted, “My thanks to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their continued support to UNRWA and the refugees of Palestine. This generous donation will improve and enhance our overall service delivery and specifically enhances our education programme, which is a priority for UNRWA and the community.”
Speaking at the announcement ceremony, the head of the Camp Service Committee for Aida Camp, Adnan Ajarmeh, said, "The refugees in Aida camp extend their thanks to the Saudi Kingdom for their important support to UNRWA, the only remaining witness to the refugee plight. Such projects are much needed and I urge all countries to follow the Kingdom’s steps in supporting this vital Agency."
This contribution will fund the reconstruction, furnishing and equipping of three health centres and two schools in the West Bank, namely the health centres in Dura town and Aida and Far’a refugee camps and the boys schools in Jenin and Tulkarm camps. This funding will also enable UNRWA to improve the learning environment for its students by upgrading basic infrastructure, as well as science and computer labs.
This donation is part of a bigger grant of US$ 67 million from SFD for projects to be implemented in Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan. The agreement was signed by UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl and SFD Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, H.E. Eng. Yousef al-Bassam, on 27 November 2016.
In 2016 alone, Saudi Arabia has contributed more than US$ 150 million to UNRWA, making the Kingdom the second largest donor after the United States. Saudi Arabia has also been a valued member of the UNRWA Advisory Commission, which advises and assists the Commissioner-General in carrying out the Agency’s mandate, since 2005.
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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