UNRWA Thanks EU for Support
The European Union (EU) has announced a new contribution of EUR 16 million (US$ 21.9 million) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This donation brings total EU support to UNRWA in 2013 to EUR 153.5 million (US$ 209.8 million). Including separate contributions from EU Member States, 41 per cent of the Agency’s funding in 2013 came from Europe.
The latest generous contribution comes in response to the worsening situation in Syria and the increasing numbers of civilian deaths and casualties, including among Palestinians and humanitarian workers. 20 staff members are currently detained or missing.
In spite of the extreme circumstances, UNRWA continues to provide important education, health and poverty-mitigation support to the country’s 540,000 registered Palestine refugees. The insecurity, displacement and increased poverty caused by the conflict have rendered an estimated 440,000 of them in dire need of additional humanitarian relief.
The latest contribution from the EU will support all aspects of UNRWA work in Syria. UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi expressed the Agency’s gratitude, saying: “On behalf of UNRWA and the refugees we serve, I would like to praise the European Union for having provided crucial support to UNRWA’s work in Syria at a time of great financial pressure. It shows, once more, that the European Union appreciates the importance of assisting Palestine refugees throughout the region and has trust in the work of UNRWA.”
With this donation and contributions from other donors, the shortfall in the UNRWA General Fund has substantially decreased allowing the Agency to pay staff December salaries before the end of the month. The situation however remains fragile, and austerity measures remain in place. UNRWA appeals to other donors, especially states in the region and its new partners, to follow the example of the European Union and help the Agency ensure that it is able to continue its work with Palestine refugees.
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 5.4 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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