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Press Release 231/2012
10 October 2012
Salvatore Lombardo, Director of External Relations for UNRWA, will visit Finland on Thursday, 11 October 2012. During his visit he will meet with cooperation partners of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs as well as parties interested in Palestine.
Originally from Italy, Lombardo has worked in the humanitarian aid sector for over 25 years. He has a long background in the UN refugee agency UNHCR, and in UNRWA he served as Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon before taking up his current position.
Already five million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East
UNRWA – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – is a UN agency that helps registered Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza as well as in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. At present there are almost five million of them.
In accordance with the mandate it received from the UN General Assembly, UNRWA defines a Palestine refugee as “any person whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948 and who lost their home and means of livelihood as a result of the Arab-Israeli 1948 conflict”, including their direct descendants.
UNRWA has about 30,000 local workers. The organisation takes care of social services, such as education and health care, for those registered as Palestinian refugees. For example, there are about 500,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria, and UNRWA is responsible for their welfare in the midst of the conflict.
Finland annually provides about 4.5 million euros in general support for UNRWA out of the budget for humanitarian aid, and is a member the UNRWA Advisory Committee. In 2011 the Unit for the Middle East and North Africa of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs granted 1.1 million euros in support for summer camps for children from Gaza, and Finland granted 356,000 euros to finance Finnish experts working for UNRWA. Finland’s support to UNRWA last year therefore was nearly 6 million euros.
Additional information: Ulla-Maija Finskas, Head of the Unit for Humanitarian Assistance of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, ulla-maija.finskas(a)formin.fi, tel. +358 9 1605 6225 or mobile tel. +358 40 043 191; and First Secretary Helena Vuokko, Unit for Humanitarian Assistance, helena.vuokko(a)formin.fi, tel. +358 9 1605 6340 or mobile tel. +358 40 195 7031.