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27 November 2013


27 November 2013
Kuala Lumpur

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has called on Malaysia to show solidarity with Palestine refugees by increasing its support for UNRWA humanitarian work across the Middle East.

Speaking to journalists in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, Esther Kuisch-Laroche, Chief of the UNRWA Donor Relations Division, said: “29 November is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, and what better way for Malaysia to show its support than by increasing its funding to an Agency that works with some 5 million registered Palestine refugees in Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank? Malaysians have a proud track record of support for Palestinians in the United Nations system and this is entirely in line with that.”

In Syria, where UNRWA has worked since the early 1950s, about 235,000 Palestinian refugees have been displaced by the conflict, out of over half a million served there by the Agency. Over 50,000 have fled to Jordan and Lebanon, the majority to Lebanon, where UNRWA strives to provide them with services including emergency food and cash assistance as well as in health and education.

Ms. Kuisch-Laroche had a sobering reminder of the sacrifices the Agency had made in the service of Palestine refugees. “Just this week, the ninth UNRWA staff member to be killed in Syria lost his life”, she said. “Mohammad Suheil Yousef Awwad died when a mortar shell struck his vehicle in Ghouta, a suburb south-east of Damascus City. He and three other passengers in the vehicle were killed instantly. With the tragic death of yet another dear colleague, we are reminded of the extraordinary threats to humanitarian workers and the senseless waste of human life in Syria.”

Aside from Syria, UNRWA also needs to fund its emergency appeal for Gaza and the West Bank for 2014. “UNRWA is targeting food insecurity in particular with its emergency work”, Ms. Kuisch-Laroche said, “and funds are urgently needed. For example, food insecurity in Gaza alone rose from 46 per cent in 2011 to 56 per cent in 2012. With the continued tightening of the Israeli-imposed blockade, this is rising again. I hope Malaysia will be able to respond generously in 2014.”

– Ends –


UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 36 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724

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