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Source: European Union (EU)
29 April 2008

EU contributes €5 million to UNRWA for the most vulnerable Palestine refugees

Mr. John Kjaer, the head of the European Commission office in Jerusalem, today confirmed the EU's signature of an additional €5 million commitment to UNRWA for 2008. This is in addition to the EU's contribution of €66 million to UNRWA's General Fund for 2008, of which 95% has already been disbursed. The €5 million will be used to help run UNRWA's Special Hardship Cases Programme throughout the occupied Palestinian territory and to support UNRWA's ongoing reforms.

"The plight facing Palestine refugees remains a genuine concern for the EU" said Mr. Kjaer. "I am only too aware of the very difficult living conditions in which many refugees still live. UNRWA provides a vital lifeline to this population, in particular the poorest of the poor. The EU's extra contribution comes at a critical time."

UNRWA Commissioner-General, Karen AbuZayd, said "I thank the people and governments of Europe for supporting UNRWA’s assistance to the poorest of the poor. Donations of this sort form an important link between Palestine refugees and the outside world at a time when many people feel a palpable sense of isolation and abandonment. UNRWA’s humanitarian work, our EC funded projects for example, offer some hope in a place where hope is dwindling. I therefore cannot underestimate the value of the support of our largest multi-lateral donor."

The €5 million contribution from the European Union will in part be used to provide cash subsidies to help bridge the poverty gap for some of the most vulnerable Palestine refugees. The cash subsidies are in addition to food assistance, and give families the flexibility to make purchases according to their primary needs and to increase the likelihood of their purchasing fresh foods. €1 million out of the €5 million will be used for UNRWA's reform efforts, helping to strengthen the Agency's capacity to serve Palestine refugees both effectively and efficiently.

Since 1971 the European Union has regularly supported UNRWA, becoming its largest multi-lateral donor. For the period 2007-2010, the European Commission has pledged to provide €264 million to UNRWA’s General Fund. This financial support, when combined with contributions from individual EU Member States, represents more than half of UNRWA's total budget. The funds will pay salaries for UNRWA’s teachers, doctors and social workers, enabling UNRWA to maintain delivery of essential and other services to Palestine refugees.

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