USA Responds to UNRWA Syria Appeal

27 January 2014
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East Jerusalem

At the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, in Kuwait City, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) received a generous contribution of US$ 28.1 million from the United States of America. This voluntary contribution by the United States will support the Agency's emergency efforts on behalf of Palestine refugees affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria at a time when such support is critically needed. As the largest bilateral donor to UNRWA, the United States has helped ensure that Palestine refugees affected by the conflict receive lifesaving assistance, including access to clean water, medicine, food and other critical needs. The United States has contributed more than US$ 100 million to UNRWA emergency appeals for Syria since the start of the crisis, and provided over US$ 294 million to support the Agency in 2013. 

UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi thanked the US for its support. Noting the Agency's recently issued Syria Regional Crisis Response Plan for 2014, he said: "The conflict in Syria is nearly 3 years old now. It has been truly devastating for Palestine refugees there - almost all of them are now in need of assistance. The emergency assistance that we work to provide them would be impossible without support like that offered today by the United States."

Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard said: "Innocent civilians affected by the crisis in Syria deserve to receive lifesaving humanitarian aid. This contribution by the United States to UNRWA demonstrates the steadfast commitment of the American people to Palestinian refugees along with the many others suffering from the tragic conflict in Syria. The United States has worked with UNRWA for many decades to support Palestinian refugees, and we will continue to do so."

The Syria Regional Crisis Response Plan, with a total budget of US$ 417.4 million, details the increasingly wide impact the crisis is having throughout the region. Of 540,000 Palestine refugees in the country, around half are displaced within Syria, while around 80,000 have fled to neighboring countries. There are over 50,000 now in Lebanon and around 11,000 in Jordan. The sheer numbers and the scale of the need strain services and abilities, while  challenging living conditions and difficulties with legal issues - including visas, registration and access to services - present their own dangers.

The latest contribution from the United States ensures that UNRWA can continue supporting Palestine refugees both within and beyond Syria’s borders. Out of the total US contribution, US$ 20.9 will support UNRWA emergency activities inside Syria, with the remainder spent on the needs of Palestine refugees who have been forced to flee their homes in Syria, including to Lebanon and Jordan.

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 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank 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:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
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