UNRWA PROVIDES US$ 13.5 MILLION IN SHELTER REPAIR ASSISTANCE TO PALESTINE REFUGEE FAMILIES
THROUGH REPURPOSED FUNDS FROM THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA
03 February 2015
A total of 9,503 families received shelter assistance packages today, Tuesday 3 February, after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia generously repurposed US$ 13.5 million initially pledged to UNRWA for reconstruction in the Gaza Strip. The Kingdom, through the Saudi Fund for Development, responded with flexibility, allowing the funds to be used to support the self-help repair assistance that UNRWA was last week forced to suspend due to lack of money. UNRWA disbursed the repurposed donation as soon as the funds became available.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest contributor to the UNRWA emergency shelter programme in Gaza. The kingdom also continues to help the Agency meet the needs of Palestine refugees through the provision of funding for vital education, health care, housing and infrastructure projects.
The reallocation of funds and quick action by UNRWA follows the Agency’s announcement of the suspension of its shelter assistance programme to tens of thousands of people in Gaza, which supports repairs to damaged homes and provides rental subsidies to families whose homes are now uninhabitable. The repurposed funds do not change the fact that UNRWA has received only US$ 135 million in pledges for shelter assistance, leaving a shortfall of US$ 585 million.
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$ 81 million.
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