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UNRWA Launches COVID -19 US$ 14 Million Flash Appeal for Palestine Refugees
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) urgently needs US$ 14 million to prepare and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak over an initial three-month period. The Flash Appeal that the Agency launched today outlines the immediate priorities and financial requirements for health and other services related to the pandemic in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. This Flash Appeal is in addition to the regular UNRWA Programme Budget needs.
“Overcrowded living conditions, physical and mental stress and years of protracted conflict all make the vulnerable population of over 5.6 million Palestine refugees particularly susceptible to the ongoing threats of COVID-19,” said UNRWA Acting Commissioner-General Christian Saunders. “All of the Agency’s five fields’ host governments and authorities have announced a series of robust measures to cope with the spread of COVID-19, which UNRWA will follow and factor into its operations.”
As of today, all UNRWA schools and other educational institutions across the five fields are temporarily closed; yet, all 144 UNRWA clinics remain fully operational and continue to provide essential primary health services, which today are more crucial than ever, to contain and address the spread of the ongoing pandemic.
“Countless individuals and every government are involved in the massive global efforts to contain the spread and mitigate the impact of COVID-19, and UNRWA, our staff and the Palestine refugee community we serve, are no different,” said Mr. Saunders. “I humbly call on donors, whether governments, foundations or individuals, to help UNRWA face what could become a disaster of unconscionable proportions in places like Gaza and Syria. COVID-19 has illustrated that no population is exempt and for a densely populated area like Gaza, already weakened by years of blockade, this could be disastrous. Gaza simply does not have the resources and means to weather such a story. Any contribution is gratefully received, every penny will make a difference.”
The Acting Commissioner-General also addressed the donor community in a video message.
Amidst the current global crisis and in response to the continuing critical needs of Palestine refugees and in alignment with WHO and UN Preparedness and Response plans, UNRWA has developed and activated an Agency-wide COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. The plan and a comprehensive briefing update on the COVID-19, along with a daily situational report are all available now on the UNRWA COVID-19 website page at: https://www.unrwa.org/covid_19.
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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.
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