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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
20 January 2015


20 January 2015

UNRWA gratefully acknowledges the timely and consistent support of the government and people of Germany for Palestine refugees in Syria. The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs contributed €2 million ($2.49 million) to the UNRWA cash assistance programme in July 2014, and an additional €2 million ($2.49 million) in October 2014.

These generous contributions were rapidly disbursed to make a difference to the lives of 81,762 Palestine refugees in Syria, helping them to purchase food and other essential items that they would otherwise not be able to afford. Among those who benefited from German donations were Palestine refugees residing in areas such as Dera’a, Homs, Hama and rural Damascus – areas that have been hit hardest by poverty and other consequences of armed conflict.

Michael Kingsley-Nyinah, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria, highlighted the impact this contribution has on the lives of Palestine refugees, saying, “cash assistance has proved to be an effective and versatile method of humanitarian relief. Support from donors like the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs is an indispensable lifeline to the many thousands of Palestine refugees who have lost their homes and incomes as a result of the armed conflict in Syria.”

Palestine refugees in Syria are profoundly vulnerable; of the 480,000 individuals remaining in the country, as estimated 96 per cent require continuous humanitarian assistance. Over 50 per cent of that population has been internally displaced, losing their homes, assets and savings. Many are resorting to negative coping mechanisms, such as reducing food intake, in the face of chronic food insecurity and soaring prices for basic goods and services.

The UNRWA cash assistance programme is an innovative, efficient and highly effective way to provide direct support to Palestine refugees in the greatest humanitarian need, and to build their resilience. Cash grants are distributed by a variety of methods in order to quickly reach refugees across Syria. Cash allows recipients to manage their own spending and respond to their changing needs, while reducing administrative and distribution costs. Alongside in-kind support such as food and household goods, cash assistance also allows refugees to prioritize heating, warm clothing and health care as winter progresses.

Cash assistance will remain the principal UNRWA method for providing relief to Palestine refugees in 2015. As the conflict in Syria approaches its fourth anniversary, Palestine refugees are exhausted from continued displacement, disruption and hardship. Throughout 2015, continuing support from donors such as the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be essential to ensure that Palestine refugees are able to meet their most basic needs and retain the capacity to weather the storm of Syria’s war.


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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