UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions. The only exception is a very limited subsidy from the Regular Budget of the United Nations, which is used exclusively for administrative costs. The work of UNRWA could not be carried out without sustained contributions from state and regional governments, the European Union and other government partners, which represented 93.5 per cent of all contributions in 2017.
In 2017, 40 per cent of the Agency’s total pledges of US$ 1.2 billion came from EU member states, who contributed US$ 451 million, including through the European Commission. The United States and the European Commission were the largest individual donors, contributing a cumulative 45 per cent of the Agency’s overall funding. The United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Germany were also among the top five donors.
In 2018, UNRWA started with an overall budget shortfall of US$ 146 million. This situation was severely aggravated by the withdrawal of US$ 300 in funding from the United States of America, historically the largest UNRWA bilateral donor to the Agency. This presented UNRWA with an unprecedented financial crisis and put at risk the Agency’s operations across all fields. Thanks to the remarkable additional support of many traditional and emerging donors, and due to the launch of the global #DignityIsPriceless fundraising campaign, UNRWA has raised additional contributions and was able to decrease the shortfall from US$ 446 million at the beginning of the year to US$ 64 million at the end of September 2018. This deficit still poses a huge challenge to the Agency.