UNRWA launches US$ 94.6 Million COVID-19 Appeal for continued pandemic response

04 September 2020
An UNRWA health staff member assists a Palestine refugee patient at the Am'ari Health Centre, West Bank. © 2020 UNRWA Photo

Today, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) launched a US$ 94.6 million COVID-19 Appeal. This funding is required by the Agency to mitigate the worst impacts of the pandemic on 5.6 million registered Palestine refugees in the Middle East until the end of December 2020, with a special focus on health, cash assistance and education.

Since July, COVID-19 cases have worryingly surged in the West Bank, Lebanon and Syria, with more recent increases in Jordan and the first instances of local transmission in Gaza recorded in late-August. The Appeal is crucial for controlling the spread of the pandemic in Palestine refugee camps and to help prevent a major outbreak. The Agency’s initial appeal allowed for the continued provision of health and hospitalization, as well as the adoption of measures that largely helped contain the spread of the virus, such as home delivery of medicines, telemedicine and triage systems.

“UNRWA will continue the strict measures it put in place as a result of COVID-19 at least until the end of December, said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. This new flash Appeal will sustain our health, education and emergency services. In parallel, we will step up relief interventions to address the growing poverty and despair among Palestine refugees.”

The ramifications of COVID-19-related lockdowns have crippled economies across the region, leaving millions without a stable source of income. UNRWA will support Palestine refugees with cash assistance and food aid. In Gaza, the Agency provided home delivery of food parcels from March to August and special risk mitigation measures will be introduced at food distribution centres if the situation allows for regular distributions to resume. In Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Gaza, UNRWA will provide cash allowance to nearly one million Palestine refugees. Given the outbreak of COVID-19 in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, UNRWA will support families in quarantine with food and non-food items.

This fall, UNRWA will be welcoming over half a million girls and boys ‘Back to Learning’ across its five fields of operation, using an array of innovative modalities, including in-person, remote and rotational teaching. UNRWA prioritizes the safety of school students and their families and will take all possible measures to ensure a safe learning environment for students.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini noted: “I call on our global partners to continue helping millions of Palestine refugees stay safe. In these uncertain times, the predictability of the Agency’s services, particularly health and education, help maintain a sense of normality and stability in Palestine refugee communities.”