The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is grateful to the Government of the United States of America for its generous contribution of US$ 18.3 million. The new funding will support UNRWA emergency activities in Syria and Lebanon, helping Palestine refugees impacted by the ongoing conflict.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi thanked the US for its contribution to the Agency. He said: "The US has once again demonstrated its commitment to the relief of Palestine refugees. Their support will help UNRWA provide important assistance to those Palestine refugees who remain inside Syria, as well as to those who have fled to neighbouring countries, especially Lebanon.”
Palestine refugees have been severely affected by the armed conflict in Syria, with virtually all their residential areas experiencing armed engagements or the use of heavy weapons. The number of Palestine refugees in need of emergency assistance in Syria is rapidly approaching the total population of 529,000 registered refugees. Since the start of the conflict, in 2011, UNRWA has distributed cash assistance to 278,000 Palestine refugees and non-food items to 77,000. Nearly 90,000 Palestine refugee families have received UNRWA food parcels.
The UNRWA emergency response in Syria has been made possible in part by US support, which now totals nearly US$ 82 million since 2012. The US remains the largest bilateral supporter to both the Agency’s emergency operations as well as to its core programming in education, health and relief activities.
Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, reiterated US support for UNRWA, saying: “The President’s announcement today demonstrates the commitment of the United States to the humanitarian needs of all those affected by the conflict in Syria, including Palestine refugees. The United States has worked with UNRWA for over 60 years to ensure Palestine refugees receive the essential humanitarian support that they need.”
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$ 54.3 million.
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