Sweden announces US$ 8 million contribution in emergency support for Palestine refugees
09 May 2016
The Kingdom of Sweden has announced a SEK 65 million (US$ 8 million) contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in support of the Agency’s Emergency Appeals for Syria and for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). The generous un-earmarked contributions will allow for greater flexibility and improved efficiency in the Agency’s capacity to respond to the needs of Palestine refugees affected by the conflict in Syria as well as for those in the West Bank and Gaza.
“UNRWA is grateful to the government and people of Sweden for this urgently needed support for Palestine refugees in Syria. The contribution will enable UNRWA to continue providing vital emergency humanitarian assistance to Palestine refugees most affected by the armed conflict in Syria, including in Yarmouk and Aleppo,” said Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria Michael Kingsley-Nyinah. “The contribution also demonstrates that Sweden bears in mind the extreme vulnerability of Palestine refugees in Syria, and is a true partner of UNRWA in the Agency’s efforts to strengthen the resilience of these refugees,” he added.
Over 60 per cent of the 450,000 Palestine refugees remaining in Syria are internally displaced and almost all of them rely on UNRWA for assistance. This includes tens of thousands who are trapped in areas of active conflict, with extremely constrained access to humanitarian assistance.
The situation in the oPt also inspires concern. Poverty is extremely high in Gaza, which has one the highest unemployment rates in the world. In 2015, the overall youth unemployment rate stood at 61 per cent, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, violence and operations by Israeli security forces, access restrictions, forced displacement, demolitions, and other rights violations increased significantly since October 2015. Almost one in four Palestine refugees in the West Bank are food insecure, and around 200,000 are in need of assistance to meet basic food needs.
The Swedish contribution will also support the Agency’s emergency response in the oPt, which encompasses food and cash assistance for displaced families, emergency shelter, education in emergencies and community mental health, among other emergency interventions.
Sweden remains one of the Agency’s top-ten donors, having contributed with over US$ 45 million in 2015 alone. In 2016, UNRWA needs US$ 817 million in support of the Agency’s Emergency Appeals for Syria and for the oPt in order to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in the region.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall, projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 81 million. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance .
For more information, please contact:
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)2 589 0724