US Increases Support for UNRWA
The United States of America has made a generous new contribution of US$ 82 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), bringing the total U.S. contribution to UNRWA in 2014 alone to US$ 211 million. These funds are of vital importance as the Agency continues its efforts to provide some 5 million Palestine refugees with support and assistance. The United States remains the largest bilateral UNRWA donor.
The bulk of the new US contribution, US$ 45 million, will support vital UNRWA human-development programmes across its areas of operations, including the 700 schools that educate nearly half a million children. Even as the financial environment has grown more precarious, a young and growing refugee population has increased needs for education, health and social services, making US support invaluable for the Agency. This contribution brings the US contribution to the UNRWA General Fund to US$ 105 million for 2014.
The United States has also increased its support for UNRWA emergency programmes in the West Bank and Gaza to US$ 75 million, with a dedicated US$ 36 million from the recent contribution. Though the operating contexts are unique, Palestine refugees throughout the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) are facing emergency situations that require an additional, focused response from the international community. The contribution from the United States, which remains the largest and most consistent supporter of emergency needs in the West Bank and Gaza, will enable UNRWA efforts in food assistance, job creation and emergency health care, as well as other areas.
Thanking the United States for its crucial support, Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, said: "UNRWA works with a uniquely vulnerable population in incredibly challenging situations. In such an environment, it is impossible to overstate the importance of the consistent and generous support the United States has offered." UNRWA is especially grateful for a contribution of US$ 1 million towards the Agency's efforts to provide relief to those Palestine refugees displaced from Nahr el-Bared camp, in Lebanon, in 2007, bringing total US support for Nahr el-Bared relief assistance to US$ 2 million in 2014.
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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