Austrian Representative Astrid Wein and UNRWA Officer in Charge, External Relations and Communications Department, Arabic Language Spokesperson, Sami Mshasha, sign contribution agreements. © 2020 UNRWA photo by Marwan Baghdadi
The Government of Austria signed on Monday a multi-year agreement (MYA) for 2020-2022 amounting to a total of EUR 5.7 million with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
This MYA will support the UNRWA Health Programme in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). In addition, the parties signed a EUR 2 million agreement towards services under the Agency’s Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal in 2020.
UNRWA said in a press release that the contribution from Austria for the UNRWA Health Programme will support the protection of Palestine refugees’ health and will reduce their disease burden. Funds will go towards ensuring adequate and timely availability of essential medicines and supplies, as well as educational materials in UNRWA health centres and clinics in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Austria’s contribution to the Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal will benefit the UNRWA cash assistance programme for the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in Syria. It will help ensure that approximately 18,000 Palestine refugees meet their basic needs.
Some 91 per cent of the 438,000 Palestine refugees who remain in Syria live in absolute poverty. More than 125,000 of them have been identified as extremely vulnerable. As of June 28, only 33 per cent of the Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal is funded.
“As a longstanding partner, Austria recognizes the high urgency of further and predictable multi-year support to UNRWA relief programmes. With our most recent contribution, we aim to strengthen the resilience of Palestinian refugees by ensuring their access to basic services. This comes at an important moment, as the COVID-19 pandemic translates into further hardship and challenges for the already dire living conditions in the West Bank, in Gaza and in Syria. We appreciate UNRWA’s role and professionalism in providing the required support to Palestinian refugees where it is most needed in times of crisis,” said Astrid Wein, the Austrian Representative in Ramallah.
“On behalf of the Agency, I thank and commend the Austrian Government for these two timely and generous contributions and for entering into a first ever multi-year agreement with UNRWA. We hope that more countries will follow Austria’s example and make the Agency’s funding more predictable,” said Sami Mshasha, UNRWA’s Officer in Charge, External Relations and Communications Department, Arabic language spokesperson.