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UNRWA launches its priorities and funding requirements for Lebanon and Syria for 2020
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) launched in Beirut today its 2020 funding appeal, including for the Syria Regional Crisis (Syria Appeal) totaling US$ 270 million. The event focused on the Agency’s exceptional funding requirements for a relief plan for Palestine Refugees in Lebanon in view of the current deteriorating economic and financial situation in the country.
“Palestine refugees in Lebanon rely on UNRWA to provide aid which often is literally life-saving,” said the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Claudio Cordone. “The financial crisis that is affecting everyone in the country this year makes their reliance on us even greater. Supporting UNRWA is not a substitute for a much needed political solution, but it is fundamental to sustaining a dignified existence for the Palestine refugee community.”
The funds sought to cover the Syria appeal will provide vital assistance to some 438,000 Palestine refugees affected by the conflict inside Syria, and to some 28,000 who are displaced to Lebanon and 17,000 currently in Jordan, and who continue to face significant humanitarian and protection needs.
“The conflict in Syria has affected everyone, but the case of Palestine refugees is particularly compelling, with 40% of them remaining in prolonged displacement,” said the Director of UNRWA affairs in Syria Amanya Michael-Ebye. “We often hear that the only normality for Palestine refugees inside Syria, and those displaced to Jordan and Lebanon since the conflict erupted, is their access to UNRWA services, such as schools, health care and other forms of assistance.”
2019 was a particularly challenging year both on the financial and political levels for UNRWA, which ended the year with US $ 50 million in liabilities carried over into 2020, despite an upsurge in support by the donor community in November and December.
The presentation of the Agency’s 2020 priorities and financial requirements comes in the wake of the recent extension by the United Nations General Assembly, of the UNRWA mandate for another three years until June 2023, confirming the trust that the international community places in the Agency and its role in protecting and assisting millions of Palestine refugees in the region.
On 31 January 2020, the Acting Commissioner-General, Christian Saunders, called in Geneva during the launching of 2020 Budget Appeal for a minimum of US$ 1.4 billion to fund the Agency’s essential services and assistance, including life-saving humanitarian aid and priority projects, for 5.6 million registered Palestine refugees across the Middle East for the year 2020.
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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