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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
18 December 2015


18 December 2015

The Italian government has made a generous contribution of EUR 2.18 million (US$ 2,390,351) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to provide food assistance to the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in Gaza.

Last summer’s hostilities and the ongoing blockade of the coastal enclave, which entered its ninth year in June 2015, have devastated the local economy. The unemployment rate in Gaza is now one of the highest in the world, contributing to rising levels of poverty and food insecurity. As a result, Palestine refugees in Gaza have become increasingly reliant on UNRWA to meet their basic needs. Over the last 15 years, the number of refugees in need of food assistance has increased tenfold, from 80,000 in 2000 to over 868,000 in 2015. This number is expected to increase up to 1,000,000 refugees in 2016.

The food assistance programme in Gaza, which falls under the Agency’s social safety net programme, helps mitigate the effects of poverty by ensuring that the poorest Palestine refugees are able to meet their minimum food needs. The Italian contribution will enable the programme to distribute in-kind food – including wheat flour, rice, sugar, oil and milk powder – to approximately 106,866 food-insecure Palestine refugees in Gaza in 2016.

Italy has long been one of the Agency’s most reliable donors. In 2015, Italy contributed EUR 8.75 million (US$ 9.56 million) to UNRWA, including EUR 4 million (US$ 4.36 million) for the Agency’s core programmes and services and EUR 1 million (US$ 1.09 million) for the emergency in Yarmouk, Syria.


UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions, and financial support has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, deepening poverty and conflict. As a result, the UNRWA General Fund, which supports core essential services and most staffing costs, operates with a large deficit. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large deficits, 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 solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, 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)2 589 0724

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