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


09 October 2015

The United States contributed an additional US$ 21.1 million to support UNRWA efforts to respond to the humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees from Syria (PRS) in the region. The United States is the largest bilateral UNRWA donor, with this latest contribution bringing the total US contribution towards the 2015 UNRWA Syria Emergency Appeal to nearly US$ 97.5 million.

“The ongoing crisis in Syria continues to inflict a devastating impact on the lives of civilians, including Palestine refugees. Those who still live in Syria are dealing with increasingly inhumane conditions, while those who have fled to neighboring countries and abroad have left behind their homes and communities” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl. “I express my sincere appreciation to the United States for this generous contribution, which will help us to provide for the basic needs of Palestine refugees from Syria in the region and ensure that more can be done to preserve their dignity and rights in light of the enormous challenges they face.”

“UN humanitarian organizations simply are not funded sufficiently to address the world’s multiple humanitarian crises, including in Syria and neighboring countries,” said U.S. Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Simon Henshaw. “Our support to UNRWA’s Syria Emergency Appeal will help the Agency and Palestinian refugees at a critical time -- as winter approaches, life-saving humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees from Syria is vital. Still, to cope with the magnitude of crises we are facing, we also need other nations to contribute what they can, and we urge them to do so.”

Of the total contribution, US$ 19.1 million will go towards UNRWA humanitarian activities inside Syria, where more than 95 per cent of the 480,000 Palestine refugees living in Syria rely on UNRWA to meet their daily basic needs. In addition to helping UNRWA continue operations in Syria – keeping clinics and schools running – the U.S. contribution will enable UNRWA to carry out an additional round of cash assistance in 2015, which would have been impossible without this additional support. Cash assistance helps Palestine refugees meet their basic food and household needs. An additional US$ 2 million will support the Agency's Syria regional crisis response efforts in Lebanon, where Palestine refugees from Syria face restricted access to employment opportunities and public services and where UNRWA cash assistance represents the main source of income for 98 per cent of the 45,000 Palestine refugees from Syria in the country.

Since the armed conflict in Syria began, the United States has contributed more than US$ 280 million to support UNRWA efforts in response to the ensuing regional crisis, representing the largest contribution by any single donor. The United States has contributed more than US$ 380 million to UNRWA’s overall 2015 needs, including US$ 165 million to support core programmes and services that significantly contribute to keeping UNRWA schools running, health care facilities open, and provide relief and social services to the Palestine refugees served by the Agency.

UNRWA is appealing for US$ 415 million to meet the minimum needs of Palestine refugees affected by the Syria crisis in 2015. So far this year, the international community has pledged US$ 207 million towards the Agency’s 2015 Syria Emergency Appeal, representing 49 per cent of the total amount requested.


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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