Palestinian refugee men carry food aid given by UNRWA in Gaza City on 15 January 2018 (Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency)
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) welcomed on Monday the European Union’s renewed financial support for its vital operations that serve around five million Palestinian refugees.
“UNRWA warmly welcomes the EU's renewed support for its core operations and also welcomes the European parliament's initial commitment to increase the Agency's annual contribution for next year,” said UNRWA spokesman Sami Mshasha in a statement quoted by WAFA news agency.
“UNRWA looks forward to final and formal approval to increase our annual funding from the European Union.”
The UNRWA spokesman said that the decision to increase funding “is a testament to the historic partnership between the European Union and UNRWA over five decades and to the unparalleled role the Agency plays in the lives of millions of Palestine refugees and underscores the need for sustainable financial mechanisms for it.”
The EU earlier this month disbursed a vital €92 million contribution in support of UNRWA's operations.
EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, Josep Borrell, said: “We remain determined to support UNRWA both politically and financially, including by providing long term reliability. The Agency plays an essential role in providing vital services to millions of Palestine refugees and stabilizing the region.”
“Our support to UNRWA is not only a humanitarian duty; it also helps to keep alive the prospects of sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians. UNRWA's services remain key to contribute to a viable negotiated two-State solution, including a fair, agreed and realistic solution to the refugee issue”, he added.
The Palestine refugee agency has been under attack by Israel and its lobbying groups in an effort to discredit it and end its operations under various pretexts as a step toward liquidating the Palestinian refugee issue that started in 1948 when Israel was created in Palestine.
The former US administration under Donald Trump, under pressure from Israel, has cut off all aid to UNRWA before aid was partially restored by the current administration of Joe Biden. Before ending its aid, the US was the largest contributor to UNRWA with over $350 million annually.
Currently, five million Palestine refugees are serviced by UNRWA’s health, education and social services programs in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.