Palestinian children transferred to their school on a motorcycle. Photo credit: UNRWA
The Acting Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Christian Saunders, hascalled for a minimum of US$ 1.4 billion to fund the Agency’s essential services and assistance, including life-saving humanitarian aid and priority projects, for 5.6 million registered Palestine refugees across the Middle East for the year 2020.
The presentation of the Agency’s 2020 priorities and financial requirements comes in the wake of the recent extension by the United Nations General Assembly of the UNRWA mandate for another three years until June 2023, UNRWA said in a statement issued earlier this week.
“The immense support that UNRWA received at the General Assembly in December of last year was an overwhelming validation of the Agency and of our mandate,” said Saunders. “We now need our donors and partners to match that support with the necessary funding to allow us to provide Palestine refugees with protection and those critical services considered a basic human right. In return, we commit to upholding the values and principles enshrined in the UN charter and to ensuring that every penny of public funding we receive is used wisely, properly and effectively.”
UNRWA said that in 2020, Palestine refugees in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria will continue to face a range of daunting human development and protection challenges. Central to these pressures is the ongoing occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the blockade of Gaza, the continuing conflict in Syria, the political crisis in Lebanon and the growing needs in Jordan, all of which continue to dramatically impact the lives of Palestine refugees.
Of the required US$ 1.4 billion, the Agency will use US$ 806 million for essential core services, which encompass education, health, infrastructure and camp improvement, relief and social services, protection and microfinance and contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda. UNRWA will be able to provide education to over half a million girls and boys in some 700 schools across the region, and enable 8.5 million patient visits in its health facilities.
An additional amount of US$ 155 million is required to provide emergency humanitarian aid to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, and US$ 270 million is needed in support of the Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal (in Syria and for Palestinian refugees from Syria in Lebanon and Jordan), added the Agency.
UNRWA also said that an estimated US$170 million is required for priority projects, in particular rehousing and reconstruction initiatives in response to conflicts in Syria and Gaza, as well as initiatives designed to complete and strengthen program reforms and delivery.
“Until there is a just and durable solution to the plight of Palestine refugees, we are the only agency able to provide the type of essential services that Palestine refugees are entitled to. I humbly call on our donors and partners to strongly support UNRWA this year; your investment is very well-placed, it is an investment in a beleaguered people deserving of your continued support and it is an investment in the region’s stability,” said Saunders.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.6 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.