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UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini Visit to Belgium
On 1 July 2021, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini held bilateral meetings with Sophie Wilmès, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Affairs & Foreign Trade & Federal Cultural Institutions of Belgium, and Meryame Kitir, Minister of Development Cooperation & of Major Cities.
Commissioner-General Lazzarini thanked Minister Wilmès for Belgium’s strong commitment to multilateralism and the recent increase in its multi-annual support to the UNRWA Programme Budget. Minister Kitir confirmed Belgium’s best donorship practices in the relations with UNRWA, namely through the adoption of multi-years commitments, aiming to enhance predictability and sustainability of UNRWA operations.
“UNRWA is an important organization for millions of Palestinian refugees, facing considerable challenges. Belgium has great confidence in UNRWA’s resilience and capacity to adapt, and will stay a loyal partner and donor,” said Sophie Wilmès, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In both meetings, Belgium’s solid partnership with UNRWA was commended and further reinforced, with a particular focus on protection and promotion of women’s and girls’ rights.
"Through this partnership, Belgium contributes to the education, health and social services that help empower Palestine refugees. By investing in UNRWA, Belgium invests in the Agency’s ability to continue advocating for the wellbeing and dignity of Palestine refugees. I am very grateful for the trust and solidarity expressed towards the Agency during this visit," said Lazzarini.
Belgium is a very reliable partner of UNRWA both politically and financially and has been an active and supportive member of the Agency Advisory Commission since 1953. In 2020 Belgium was the 17th largest donor to the Agency, with a total contribution of EUR 11.25 million (including EUR 6.25 million to the Agency Program Budget, EUR 2.3 million to the Syria Regional Emergency Appeal and EUR 2.7 million for projects). The aid for Syria allows UNRWA to continue providing food assistance to 99,000 Palestine refugees in Syria, hence mitigating the impact of poverty and food insecurity of those most in need, especially under the COVID-19 pandemic. Belgian project funding supports addressing violence affecting and involving children in UNRWA installations and services, and the reforming of the UNRWA Refugee Registration Information System (RRIS), assuring a rights-based and person-centred approach.
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 5.7 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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