UNRWA Commissioner-General begins European Mission in Germany

09 October 2020
(From left) UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini with H.E. Heiko Maas, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, Germany. © 2020 Photo by Photothek.de/Thomas Trutschel

The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, concluded an engaging four-day visit to Berlin, his first European visit since his appointment as Commissioner-General of the Agency. The visit, between 6-9 October aimed to further strengthen the strategic partnership between UNRWA and the Federal Republic of Germany, through a series of high-level meetings. 

Mr. Lazzarini met with Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, H. E. Heiko Maas, Minister of State, Niels Annen, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr. Maria Flachsbart and at the Chancellery Director General of the Foreign Security and Development Policy Department, Dr. Jan Hecker, as well as high-level officials from several ministries. In all his meetings, Mr. Lazzarini reiterated how critical support from Germany enables the Agency to maintain its vital services to Palestine refugees. Germany’s additional financial support to UNRWA allowed it to increase its emergency response during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(From left) UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini with H.E. Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Developme

Mr. Lazzarini was also invited to brief members of the following Parliamentary Committees: Budget, Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid, and Economic Cooperation and Development. In addition, he met with various Bundestag political groups, including the Parliamentarian’s Group on Arabic-speaking countries of the Near and Middle East, as well as with H.E. Dr. Khouloud Daibes, Ambassador of Palestine to Germany and engaged with representatives of the Catholic and Protestant churches, civil society organizations, academia and media.

These meetings were an opportunity for Mr. Lazzarini to discuss the humanitarian and operational situation in the Agency’s five fields of operations, specifically highlighting how UNRWA continues to respond to COVID-19, as well as the question of Palestine refugees in the region more broadly. Mr. Lazzarini also reminded his interlocutors of the Agency’s precarious financial situation and the need for sufficient, sustainable and more predictable funding for its operations in support of the well-being, human development and protection of more than 5.6 million Palestinian refugees in the region. “Having partners as reliable and steadfast as Germany should be every humanitarian agency’s goal,” said Mr. Lazzarini. “Germany’s consistency in support of human rights, humanitarian principles and multilateralism allows UNRWA to plan its services while knowing that it has a strong ally backing it.”

For UNRWA, Germany is an important and strategic partner. The Government of Germany was the Agency’s largest donor in 2019 contributing more than EUR 152 million towards UNRWA operations. Since 2005 Germany has been a member of the UNRWA Advisory Commission, which is tasked with assisting the Agency in carrying out its mandate. In recent years, Germany has continuously increased its commitment to UNRWA and considerably expanded its financial and technical cooperation across the board. Germany has pledged EUR 161 million in funds so far in 2020.

The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany is a key partner for UNRWA in sustainably improving living conditions of Palestine refugees in camps across the region. To learn more about the impactful development in Jordan and Lebanon thanks to generous financial support from the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through KfW Development Bank, Click here for German, Arabic, English.

Click here for the full length video: English, German. Arabic.

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 5.6 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:

Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
+962 (0)79 090 0140