12 May 2022
The European Union announced a three-year multiyear contribution of EUR 246 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In a key meeting on the margins of the Brussels IV Conference on 'Supporting the future of Syria and the region’, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini met with the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi to discuss the vital services the Agency delivers to Palestine refugees impacted by the ongoing conflict in Syria and across the Middle East. The heartening exchange reconfirmed the shared commitment to a strong, and fruitful partnership in support of UNRWA and Palestine refugees, evidenced by this multiyear contribution agreement.
UNRWA welcomed the announcement of the provision of predictable and regular funding to the Agency for the next three years, totalling EUR 246 for the 2022-2024 period. This reliable and predictable support will ensure lifesaving assistance to Palestine refugees, including education, health care, and relief and social services.
In addition, the contribution of EUR 15 million from the EU Food and Resilience Facility will ensure food security for the most vulnerable Palestinian refugees, at increased risk given the sharp rise in global food and commodities prices.
Mr Lazzarini said: “We are extremely grateful for this support from the European Union, steadfast partner of UNRWA and Palestine refugees. This multi-year funding allows us to plan in the medium term and we hope this will serve as a model for other donors. We welcome additional contributions to the UNRWA Programme Budget in 2022 to support food assistance to those most in need. For more than 50 years, the EU has been a solid and reliable partner, and our partnership continues to allow millions of Palestine refugees to be better educated and live a dignified life, thus contributing to the development of the entire region.”
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Since 1971, the strategic partnership between the European Union and UNRWA has been based on the shared objective of supporting the human development, humanitarian and protection needs of Palestinian refugees and to promoting stability in the Middle East.
Today, the EU is the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees. Collectively, the EU and its Member States are also among the largest contributors to the Agency's humanitarian emergency appeals and projects in response to various crises and specific needs across the region.
In 2021, the EU signed a Joint Declaration in support of UNRWA for the period 2021-2024, marking 50 years of partnership. In the Joint Declaration, the EU commits to continue supporting UNRWA politically and in securing predictable, multi-annual financial resources to enable the Agency to fulfil its mandate and provide its essential services to Palestinian refugees.
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 5.7 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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