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.”

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 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.

For more information, please contact:

Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
+962 (0)79 090 0140