UNRWA Commissioner-General concludes high level visit to Kuwait

22 October 2021
The Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Mr. Philippe Lazzarini meeting with His Highness, the Kuwait Prime Minister Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah at the Bayan Palace. © 2021 Photo Courtesy of the Kuwait Fund

The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, concluded a high-level two-day visit to Kuwait, his first to the State of Kuwait since his appointment as Commissioner-General of the Agency. The visit highlighted the strategic partnership between UNRWA and the State of Kuwait and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.

Mr. Philippe Lazzarini held important meetings with prominent Kuwait officials, starting with His Highness, Prime Minister Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah at the Bayan Palace, His Excellency Mr. Marzouq Ali Al-Ghanim, Speaker of the National Assembly and His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs. He also met with His Excellency Badr Al-Saad, Chief Executive Officer of the Board of Directors of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the Director General of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Mr. Marwan Abdullah Thunayan Al-Ghanem and Mrs. Maha Al-Barjas, Secretary-General of the Kuwait Red Crescent Society attended the official luncheon hosted in his honor by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Throughout his meetings, the Commissioner-General emphasized that the support of the government and institutions of the State of Kuwait greatly contribute to the ability of UNRWA to maintain its vital services for Palestine refugees. Further, this timely, supplemental contribution provided by the State of Kuwait, through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development will allow the Agency to expand its emergency response to Palestine refugees in the region during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commissioner-General also referred to the historic role that Kuwait played in support of Palestinians, including through its hosting of Palestine refugees by the State of Kuwait. It is worth noting that through the Agency’s cutting-edge vocational training at the time, many Palestine refugees contributed to the development of Kuwait as teachers and skilled workers in the health sector.

The meetings also provided an opportunity for Mr. Lazzarini to discuss the humanitarian and operational context within which UNRWA operates across the Middle East.

During the visit, UNRWA concluded two agreements with the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (the Fund), whereby the Fund would provide US$ 1.5 million to UNRWA health services to Palestine refugees in Lebanon, and US$ 20 million to support the Agency’s General Programme Budget for 2021 and 2022. This generous financial support will help the Agency to continue providing vital humanitarian services to Palestine refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

The agreements were signed by the Director-General of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Mr. Marwan Abdullah Thunayan Al-Ghanem, and the UNRWA Commissioner-General, Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, during a ceremony that took place at the Fund's headquarters in Kuwait.

The Kuwait Fund is a leading institution in the Middle East that has played an active role in international development efforts since its establishment in 1961.

Kuwait has long been an important donor to UNRWA through its government and through several Kuwait-based organizations in the fields of development and relief, such as the Kuwait Fund, the Kuwait Red Crescent, the Zakat (Alms) House, the Patient Relief Fund Society, and the International Islamic Charitable Organization. Since its establishment, the contributions provided by Kuwait to the Agency have totaled nearly US$ 238 million, enabling UNRWA to continue to provide essential services to Palestine refugees across the Middle East.

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 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations, namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. Thousands of Palestine refugees who lost both their homes and livelihood because of the 1948 conflict have remained displaced and in need of significant support for over seventy years. UNRWA helps them achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.

For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
+962 (0)79 090 0140