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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
31 January 2007

Press Release No. HQ/01/2007
31 January 2007

Irish Government Gives €11.4m in Aid for Palestine Refugees

BETHLEHEM, January 31st 2007 - The Irish government today announced an €11.4 million ($14.8 million) aid package to support Palestine refugees. Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern made the announcement in Bethlehem, at the start of a four-day visit to the Middle East.

The cash will support the work of the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), which helps over four million refugees across the occupied Palestinian territory, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, over three years.

“Ireland’s solid political support and their increased financial contribution to the agency’s work are crucial to UNRWA” said UNRWA’s Commissioner General Karen AbuZayd. “The visit of Mr. Ahern has demonstrated to all his interlocutors here in Aida Camp that the Palestine refugees are not being forgotten by the international community.”

"I have seen for myself today the reality of the bleak humanitarian and economic situation facing the Palestinian people," said Mr. Ahern, who visited an UNRWA run girls' school in Bethlehem.

"As someone who has lived all my life close to a border, a wall like that cannot represent a permanent solution," he said.

"It is essential to work for an urgent political solution, but also to do everything possible to alleviate the effects of this humanitarian crisis. Today's decision will involve a further significant increase in our overall assistance in 2007."

While in Bethlehem, Mr. Ahern met with President Abbas's Chief of Staff Rafiq Husseini and spent 45 minutes at the Aida Refugee Camp just within the separation barrier dividing east and west Jerusalem.

UNRWA delivers services, including education, health and social services, and emergency humanitarian assistance, to over 4.3 million registered refugees, in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

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