Palestinian refugee girl receives food aid from a UNRWA distribution centre in Besieged Gaza Strip. (File photo/DreamsTime)
The European Union (EU) Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff and the Director of Partnerships of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Karim Amer, signed on Thursday the 2021 EU-UNRWA contribution agreement in support of the Agency's 2021 Programme Budget.
The European Union’s vital support to UNRWA funds essential services to Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Under this agreement, the EU provides a contribution of EUR 90 million in support of the human development work of UNRWA for this year, in line with its mandate. Steadfast EU support has enabled UNRWA to provide frontline services such as health, education, social services, camp improvement and more, in the absence of a just and lasting solution to the plight of Palestine refugees.
The new contribution will help preserve access to education for 533,000 children, provide primary health care for more than 3.4 million patients and assistance to over 250,000 acutely vulnerable Palestine refugees, as well as a multitude of other services, at a time of extreme instability across the Middle East region. For five decades, the European Union has established itself as a key strategic partner for the Agency, supporting UNRWA in its efforts to help Palestine refugees achieve their full potential in human development despite their difficult circumstances.
In light of the Agency’s ongoing financial challenges, the EU has agreed to provide the totality of its funding immediately upon the signature of the agreement.
The EU’s commitment to Palestine refugees includes unprecedented support for the Agency’s Education Programme through its Education For Life campaign, part of which the European Union has equipped the most vulnerable and marginalized UNRWA students with tablets. This ongoing EU-UNRWA initiative, occurring across all five fields of UNRWA operations, supports children’s access to quality, inclusive and modernized education and ensures that Palestine refugee students are not left behind. The tablets will allow students to access the newly launched and innovative iLearn UNRWA digital platform, supporting student learning during the ongoing pandemic and beyond.
The partnership between the European Union and UNRWA – which marks its 50th anniversary this year - has evolved over time, with the EU and its Member States becoming the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees. This year the EU and UNRWA are renewing commitment to the partnership through signing a Joint Declaration, strengthening the political nature of the partnership and reaffirming the commitment to promoting the rights of Palestine refugees.