UNRWA and the EU held their 7th Strategic Dialogue in Brussels, Belgium. (2023 UNRWA Photo)
The 7th Strategic Dialogue between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and the European Union took place on 6 March in Brussels.
UNRWA said in a press release issued on the same day that the EU-UNRWA Strategic Dialogue is an important annual platform for both organizations to jointly assess and review their cooperation, in line with the Joint Declaration signed for the period 2021-2024.
During the high-level meeting, participants discussed the challenging political and financial environment in which UNRWA operates, and agreed on the importance of ensuring adequate, predictable and sustainable funding for the Agency to continue delivering on its mandate and contributing to regional stability.
“As UNRWA approaches its 75th anniversary, it is reflecting on how to remain efficient, impactful and relevant to the wellbeing and human development of Palestine refugees and, consequently to their feeling safe and secure”, said Stenseth. “The Agency is rolling out ambitious modernization plans, including on digitalization, to ensure that its services, namely education, health and social protection are effective and high quality.”
“This dialogue is an opportunity for UNRWA and the EU, one of our strongest partners, to reflect on our common commitment to the rights of Palestine refugees and find ways to help fulfil them despite the acute financial challenges that the Agency faces”, she added.
On the margins of the Strategic Dialogue, the UNRWA delegation, headed by Deputy Commissioner-General, Leni Stenseth, met with representatives of several European institutions, including the European Commission and members of the European Parliament, and civil society organizations.
Discussions in all the meetings focused on the irreplaceable role that UNRWA plays in a highly volatile region, and the stability that its services help bring to the lives of the refugees in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
During this visit Stenseth was accompanied by the Director of UNRWA Affairs in the West Bank, Adam Bouloukos, the Acting Director of UNRWA’s Education Department, Marta Lorenzo, and the Director of Planning, Sam Rose.
The European Union is the third-largest donor to the Agency, having already contributed to the Agency’s Programme Budget EUR 82 million in 2023. The support of the EU has enabled UNRWA to provide essential frontline services to Palestine refugees including in health, education, social services and camp improvements across the five fields of operations.