UNRWA COMMISSIONER-GENERAL MAKES HIS FIRST OFFICIAL VISIT TO FINLAND
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl has made his first official visit in office to Finland, a two-day trip which ends today. In Helsinki, Mr. Krähenbühl met the Prime Minister, Alexander Stubb, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Erkki Tuomioja and other representatives from government, the Parliament, and non-government organisations.
Mr. Krähenbühl thanked the government and people of Finland “for their long-standing support for Palestine refugees and UNRWA”. “Finland is an important partner to UNRWA, supporting our services across the Middle East, in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and in war-torn Syria,” he said. “The recent hostilities in Gaza and the devastating war in Syria, in particular, demonstrate how vital our core services are to the refugees we serve.”
Mr. Krähenbühl briefed senior officials of Finland on the work of the Agency in all its areas of operations and said that it was “imperative for the international community to increase the support to a particularly vulnerable population that continues to experience the trauma of displacement and dispossession.”
Finland contributed US$ 9.1 million to UNRWA in 2013 and has pledged US$ 6 million to the UNRWA General Fund in 2014, plus an additional US$ 700,000 to the Gaza Flash Appeal and US$ 1.9 million to the Syria Appeal for 2014.
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$ 56 million.
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