The Government of Belgium has made an additional contribution of EUR 4 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to support its core educational services. This generous contribution was announced on 27 June at the UN General Assembly in New York and comes at a critical time for UNRWA, which is currently facing an unprecedented funding shortfall, threatening the ability of the Agency to sustain its core services including education.
In announcing their support for UNRWA core educational services, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo noted: “The right to quality education for every child is of crucial importance to Belgium. It is not an option to keep schools closed due to a lack of funding. With these additional funds, we hope that UNRWA can find a solution so that every Palestinian child in Gaza, the West bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, can go back to school in the coming few weeks."
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl expressed his deep gratitude to the Government of Belgium for their continued support to the Agency’s mission: “We are sincerely grateful to the Government of Belgium for their substantial additional support of EUR 4 million towards the Agency’s core funding at this critical juncture. Belgium is an exemplary donor to UNRWA and I thank them for their commitment to the Agency and to Palestine refugees.”
The Government of Belgium has been a long-standing and valued donor to UNRWA. This vital additional funding of EUR 4 million brings their total contributions this year to EUR 10.25 million so far. This includes an annual contribution of EUR 6.25 million towards the Agency’s core funding needs over a three-year period (2018 – 2020). Furthermore, Belgium has also provided EUR 5 million funding to run the UNRWA Education in Emergencies programme from 2016 - 2019, which provides essential education services to over 300,000 Palestine refugee children in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank whose education is impacted by poverty, crisis and conflict.
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.