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United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
7 December 2001
UNRWA APPEALS FOR $ 330.7 MILLION FOR 2002 BUDGET
Gaza -- The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees made an appeal for $ 330.7 million to fund its operations in 2002 at the opening of a pledging conference at the UN headquarters New York today.
Peter Hansen, Commissioner General of UNRWA, told representatives of the UN's Members States, including major donors, that the international community has a humanitarian responsibility to assist the Palestine refugees.
Opening the conference he said: 'This responsibility calls for great resolve on the part of the international community B resolve that is essential if the refugees are to feel assured that the commitment of the international community to their well-being remains firm. This is especially so in light of the keenly felt sense of crisis and uncertainty following the tragedies of 11 September and the dramatic developments in Afghanistan. There is ever greater need for the international community to provide the refugees with the sense of security that contributes to stability in the community.'
Mr. Hansen told delegates that the Agency's budget for 2002 is at the level of $ 330.7 million. While this figure is an increase of $19 million over 2001, it represents in fact a decline in real terms when inflation and the rapidly growing refugee population are taken into account. The conference was told that UNRWA expects the total refugee population to cross the four million mark in the course of the next year.
Years of austerity and funding shortfalls have taken a toll on the Agency's service so that the Agency's schools, health centres and other installations are all showing the strain of limited spending on maintenance. In Jordan 93 per cent of UNRWA schools run on double shifts and classroom sizes have reached 50 pupils per class. Agency doctors work under great strain and treat more than 100 patients every day.
However, Mr. Hansen expressed relief and satisfaction to the delegates at an improvement in the level of contributions to UNRWA's regular budget in the closing months of 2001. In May the Agency's estimates for the current year's funding were $ 243 million, as against a budget of $ 311 million. At the end of November the estimate was for an income level of $ 285 million.
Mr. Hansen said: 'This welcome development should assist us in coping with the continuously increasing demand for our services. It is my sincere hope that this development is indicative of a trend to be sustained in coming years.'
In a positive move UNRWA has already been told by the European Union that its contributions in 2002 will rise by 45 per cent over the amount donated last year. Mr Hansen expressed hope that other donors will follow the EU's lead.
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