Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

30 September 1999



AMMAN, 29 September (UNRWA) -- Donors to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and governments hosting Palestine refugees in the Near East, at an informal meeting which ended Wednesday in Amman, Jordan, have reaffirmed support for UNRWA and its efforts to maintain services to some 3.6 million refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In response to the Agency's current financial crisis, delegates from a number of donor countries also announced additional contributions to UNRWA's 1999 budget.

The additional contributions announced included, from the United States, $1 million to the Agency's "general fund" regular budget and another $2.5 million for special projects; around $2.1 million for the general fund from the Netherlands, some $1.6 million for the general fund from the United Kingdom, and around $800,000 each from Italy and Canada. The Government of France announced that part of its food aid to UNRWA for 1999 would be monetized through a payment to UNRWA of some $950,000 in cash, in lieu of transportation and distribution costs, for a donation of 1,500 tonnes of flour.

The representative of Belgium announced that his Government would increase its annual contribution to UNRWA by 10 per cent in 2000, in addition to increasing food aid to the Agency. Luxembourg said its contribution to UNRWA's general fund and projects in 2000 would be increased by 25 per cent over their 1999 level. The additional contributions announced at the Amman meeting will cover part of the Agency's expected cash deficit in 1999.

The Amman meeting was attended by delegates from 26 of UNRWA's major donors, the host Governments of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Speaking on behalf of Jordan's Prime Minister, the Director-General of the Jordanian Department of Palestinian Affairs, Abdul Kareem Abul Heija, reiterated Jordan's commitment to supporting Palestine refugees and offering them the means for socio-economic development. "UNRWA's indispensable services are viewed by the refugees themselves and the host governments as a bastion of stability and a vital instrument in helping the refugees cope with the necessities of life, until a final settlement of their problem is reached and implemented", he said.

In his opening remarks, UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen said that despite the continuation of existing austerity and cost-reduction measures in 1999, the financial situation for the year remained grave, with a cash-flow crisis expected in the last quarter of 1999.

Meeting with Mr. Hansen in Amman on Wednesday, Jordan's Prime Minister, Abdur Ra'uf Rawabdeh, reaffirmed Jordan's unwavering support to UNRWA and its firm belief that the continuation of UNRWA services was instrumental to peace and stability in the region. He expressed his hope that donor countries would increase their support to UNRWA at this critical juncture in the peace process.

At the Amman meeting, delegates from donor and host governments stressed their full support for UNRWA and its continuing efforts to improve the level and quality of services under extreme financial difficulties. They also commended the Agency for its continuing efforts for management reform, which had resulted in a new budget format providing an improved tool for planning and fund-raising. Delegates also reiterated their belief that a solution to the refugee problem was a prerequisite for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

In his concluding remarks, Commissioner-General Hansen thanked donor and host governments for their continued support for the Agency and for the additional pledges announced at the meeting. He reiterated the Agency's commitment to a "tripartite" partnership with its stakeholders, the donor governments, the host authorities and the refugees.

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