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US Pledges US$ 57.4 million to Support Palestine Refugees Affected by Syria Crisis
The United States Government has announced a new US$ 57.4 million contribution to enable UNRWA to continue aiding Palestine refugees facing hardship, danger and dislocation because of the crisis in Syria. The United States is the largest bilateral donor to UNRWA, funding lifesaving assistance to people who have survived more than four years of the Syrian conflict.
Welcoming the donation, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl said, “After four years of war and suffering, the living conditions of Palestine refugees affected by the crisis in Syria are in so many ways unbearable. Visiting Syria earlier this month, I saw with my own eyes that their sense of despair, dispossession and acute anxiety. We are grateful for the generous contribution of the United States, which is essential for UNRWA to provide much needed support and a measure of dignity.”
The US State Department’s Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Anne Richard said, “The United States is committed to doing all it can to deliver urgently-needed humanitarian aid to civilians endangered and uprooted by Syria’s brutal war. UNRWA staff risk their own safety every day to provide a lifeline to Palestinian families that are suffering and in need.”
Violence has profoundly affected all 12 Palestine refugee camps and all 560,000 Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA in Syria. UNRWA estimates that 95 per cent of the 480,000 Palestine refugees remaining in Syria are in continuous need of humanitarian aid, and this contribution will provide lifesaving assistance – helping them access clean water, medicine and food. A large share, US$ 45.4 million of the new US contribution, will assist and protect Palestine refugees inside Syria.
An additional US$ 12 million will support 44,000 Palestine refugees from Syria who have fled to Lebanon and 15,000 Palestine refugees who crossed from Syria into Jordan. The money will help UNRWA meet emergency needs, and provide basics such as education, health care, protection, and shelter in both countries.
UNRWA is appealing for US$ 415 million to meet the minimum needs of Palestine refugees affected by the Syria crisis in 2015. The current pledged support for the 2015 UNRWA Syria Emergency Appeal stands at US$ 74.6 million.
The United States announced its new contribution on 31 March in Kuwait City at the third annual International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria. Since the crisis began in 2011, the United States has contributed more than US$ 240 million to UNRWA emergency appeals for Syria, part of the nearly US$ 3.7 billion total provided by the United States to assist those affected by the conflict in Syria over the past four years.
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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