Amman, 9 December 2009
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) this week received pledges of financial support for its activities from the governments of Mauritania, Egypt and Qatar. The donations to UNRWA’s regular budget, of US$20,000, US$25,000 and US$50,000 respectively, followed an urgent appeal for help by the Agency to plug a US$0.5billion deficit in its annual budget.
The contributions reflect a marked increase in the support from each of the states compared with their donations to the Agency last year. The contribution by Mauritania marks a first for the country, which is listed by the UN as a "least developed country", with an average GDP of approximately US$800 per head. The Qatari government upped its support by US$15,000 compared with last year, as did Egypt, currently chair of the advisory commission that oversees UNRWA’s activities.
The support, gratefully received by officials, are set to bolster the Agency’s core programmes and enable the delivery of essential services to a population of some 4.7 million Palestine refugees.
UNRWA provides assistance and protection to Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. It does so by offering to a population of some 4.7 million refugees a range of human development and humanitarian services in primary and vocational education, primary health care, social safety-net, community support, infrastructure and camp improvement, microfinance and emergency response, including in situations of armed conflict. UNRWA’s role also encompasses advocacy and actions to address the human rights and protection needs of Palestine refugees.
UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN member states. The Agency’s core budget for 2010 and 2011 stands at $1.23 billion. In 2009, emergency appeals for the West Bank and Gaza amounted to $456.7 million, with an additional $370.7 million required for Lebanon.