At today’s ministerial level meeting of a group of supporters of UNRWA, jointly chaired by UN Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-Moon and Arab League Secretary-General Dr Nabil Elaraby and attended by the Prime Minister of the State of Palestine, Dr Rami Hamdallah, and by high level delegations from Members of the League of Arab States and from UNRWA’s principal donors, participants focused on the critical situation of UNRWA caused by the escalating demand for its services and by the need to address growing hardships facing Palestine refugees especially in the occupied Palestinian territory and from regional upheavals provoked by the Syria crisis. Ministers expressed particular concern about UNRWA's financial plight and emphasized the importance of maintaining a strong UNRWA as a contributor to stability in the region. In the conclusions of the meeting they reaffirmed their commitment to providing UNRWA with reliable long-term support. Arab donors reiterated an engagement to achieve and sustain the target of 7.8 per cent for Arab contributions to the budget supporting UNRWA's basic programmes, as set out in previous Arab League resolutions.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi said: "This high level endorsement of the importance of UNRWA's work and of the need to put UNRWA funding on a sounder footing is more than welcome. I particularly appreciate the support of the Arab League in bringing about this outcome and thank its members for their strong engagement and consideration to increase their funding for UNRWA’s basic programmes, which provide education, health care and poverty relief to 5 million Palestine refugees. What is needed now is for donors to follow up on these expressions of support with concrete contributions and I will be pressing to make sure that happens, with the continuing support of the Arab League. Otherwise we are simply going to run out of money and will have to reduce education and health services and allowances for the poorest."
For more information please read the Conclusions of the Special Meeting of a Group of Supporters of UNRWA.
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$ 54.3 million.
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