The Government of Austria signed a EUR 2 million agreement towards the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal in 2021.
Through this generous funding, Austria will contribute to the Agency’s third round of cash assistance to Palestine refugees in Syria, including 8,212 refugees belonging to the most vulnerable categories (such as female-headed households, families headed by a person with disabilities, and families headed by an elderly or unaccompanied minors) and 13,780 belonging to other vulnerable categories.
After ten years of conflict, Palestine refugees in Syria are confronted with severe humanitarian challenges, compounded by the rapidly deteriorating economy and inflation, as well as by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 91 per cent of Palestine refugees in Syria live below the poverty line, and the loss of purchasing power due to the economic crisis and the increase in market prices has severely impacted the ability to meet basic needs, including food.
“Austria stands close to UNRWA, our longstanding partner, to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Palestine refugees in need in Syria. We fully acknowledge UNRWA’s role in providing critical humanitarian services to Palestine refugees in Syria who not only have gone through a decade of conflict, but are also faced with a severe economic crisis and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also reiterate our firm support to the UNRWA Health Programme in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) which Austria has supported through its first Multi-Year Agreement (MYA) signed in 2020,” said Ms. Astrid Wein, the Austrian Representative in Ramallah.
“On behalf of the Agency, I would like to express my gratitude to Austria for its generous contribution to our emergency programme in Syria. This is the third consecutive year that Austria acknowledges the increasing needs of Palestine refugees in Syria and supports UNRWA in delivering critical humanitarian services to help them meet their basic needs. UNRWA also appreciates Austria’s commitment to offering regular contributions to UNRWA, including to the Agency’s Programme Budget, and through the MYA signed in 2020 in support of UNRWA’s Health Programme in the oPt,” said Mr. Karim Amer, UNRWA Director of Partnerships.
In 2020, the Government of Austria signed a three-year MYA amounting to a total of EUR 5.7 million towards the Agency’s Health Programme in the oPt with the aim of supporting the protection of Palestine refugees’ health, reduce disease burden, and ensuring availability of medicines and medical supplies. In 2021, Austria contributed EUR 400,000 to the UNRWA Programme Budget, EUR 1.9 million to the Health Programme in oPt, and EUR 2 million to the Syria Regional Crisis Appeal.
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 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations, namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. Thousands of Palestine refugees who lost both their homes and livelihood because of the 1948 conflict have remained displaced and in need of significant support for over seventy years. UNRWA helps them achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.
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