SAUDI ARABIA PLEDGES US$ 7.6 MILLION FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES IN JORDAN
10 September 2015
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), has pledged US$ 7.6 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for a series of works in Jordan to upgrade and equip health centres and schools for Palestine refugees throughout the country, as part of an overall package of US$ 35 million for the Agency.
SFD Vice-Chairman and Managing Director H.E. Eng. Yousef al-Bassam, who authorized the grant, said: "Jordan has been host to Palestine refugees since the Nakba, with over 2 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA living in the country. By providing the Agency with this US$ 7.6 million pledge, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia pays tribute to Jordan and its people, who continue to provide Palestine refugees with a safe and secure place where they can lead fulfilling lives for themselves and their children."
The contribution will be used for the comprehensive refurbishment of 10 UNRWA health centres that serve 116,000 Palestine refugees. The cash will also provide new medical equipment for the health centres. The project component for the schools will benefit 10,000 children through the maintenance and structural upgrading of five UNRWA-owned schools, the construction of seven additional classrooms to ease overcrowding, and the provision of new textbooks and IT equipment. These improvements will ensure that Palestine refugee children have a safe and secure learning environment where they can obtain the highest educational outcomes possible.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl welcomed the news, saying: "We are deeply grateful for the generous donation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to UNRWA, which will allow the Agency to improve health and education services for Palestine refugees in Jordan. Saudi Arabia plays a key role in ensuring that UNRWA can meet the core humanitarian development and emergency needs of the growing Palestine refugee population in an increasingly unstable region. I also would like to express sincere gratitude for the longstanding support provided by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which hosts nearly half of the 5 million Palestine refugees registered with the Agency."
In May this year, UNRWA signed agreements with the Saudi Fund for Development worth US$ 111.5 million, bringing total SFD donations to UNRWA to US$ 146.5 million so far in 2015. Saudi Arabia is the third largest donor to the Agency.
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.
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