ECHO DELEGATION VISITS UNRWA HUMANITARIAN PROGRAMMES IN SYRIA
24 November 2014
The Director of Operations of the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Office (ECHO), Jean-Louis De Brouwer, visited the UNRWA humanitarian programmes in Syria on Thursday 20 November.
Mr. De Brouwer and the ECHO delegation visited the Bateekhah entrance of Yarmouk camp to obtain a sense of the challenging context in which UNRWA humanitarian distributions to Yarmouk civilians take place. The delegation was briefed on the adverse conditions endured by the approximately 18,000 civilians who remain trapped in Yarmouk. The delegation then toured the UNRWA food distribution centre in the Alliance quarter of Damascus. The Alliance Distribution Centre functions throughout the year, serving some 500 Palestine refugees each day with food parcels and other essential humanitarian assistance. The visit concluded with a stop at a branch of UNRWA partner Al-Haram Money Transfer Company, where the delegation observed the distribution of cash assistance to conflict-affected Palestine refugees. This branch is one of 30 outlets countrywide through which UNRWA channels essential cash support to reinforce the resilience of 460,000 conflict-affected Palestine refugees in Syria.
Thanking ECHO for its continued commitment and support to Palestine refugees in Syria, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria Michael Kingsley-Nyinah said: “Palestine refugees in Syria must not be forgotten. Mr. De Brouwer’s visit demonstrates ECHO’s genuine interest in understanding the situation of Palestine refugees in Syria, and in contributing to their resilience in a context of protracted armed conflict. UNRWA will always be grateful to European Commission and ECHO for their consistent and generous support to Palestine refugees and UNRWA as the Syria crisis continues.”
Throughout the visit, De Brouwer and his delegation engaged informally with Palestine refugees and heard firsthand accounts of their situation and concerns. The refugees told Mr. De Brouwer about their experiences of persistent hardship, their demands for sustaining UNRWA assistance, and their fears for the future.
“It was important for ECHO to be on the ground to witness the tremendous response by humanitarian agencies, and to assess the increasing acute needs exacerbated by the upcoming winter,” said Mr. De Brouwer. “We call on donors to step up at this critical stage, and to move beyond pledges made to actual disbursements so that assistance may continue to reach those in dire need.”
ECHO is a longstanding partner of UNRWA and has generously supported the Agency’s emergency activities in Syria and the region with contribution of over EUR 10.9 million (US$ 13.5 million) since 2013.
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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