Palestinians receive their monthly food aid from a UN distribution centre in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, last year. (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
The Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) signed an agreement on Sunday under which the State of Qatar will contribute US$ 20.7 million to support the access of Palestine refugees to basic services in Syria.
In a Sunday statement by UNRWA, the Agency said that the total support provided QFFD to UNRWA during the year 2019 amounts to US$ 40 million.
The agreement was signed by Khalifa bin Jassim Al-Kuwari, Director General of QFFD and Acting UNRWA Commissioner-General Christian Saunders. The donation will directly contribute to the Agency’s education program, namely by supporting basic education services for students and vocational and technical education and training courses for young Palestine refugee men and women. It will also support the provision of basic health services to 445,000 Palestine refugees in Syria.
“The State of Qatar and the Qatar Fund for Development are demonstrating once again their commitment to supporting Palestine refugees,” said Acting UNRWA Commissioner-General. “This generous donation to the UNRWA operations and activities in Syria comes at a time of intense financial challenge for the Agency. We are truly grateful for this additional funding and look forward to further expanding the cooperation between UNRWA, the QFFD and the State of Qatar in 2020 and beyond.”
In 2018, Qatar contributed US$ 50 million, making it one of the Agency’s top ten donors last year. Qatar’s timely contribution allowed the Agency to open its schools on time for some 530,000 boys and girls in 711 UNRWA schools.
“This agreement is an affirmation of the steadfast and firm position of the State of Qatar regarding the Palestinian issue and the State of Qatar’s special interest in the education and health sector, believing in their importance and their role in building a decent life for brothers in Palestine”, said Khalifa bin Jassim Al-Kuwari.
He added that the leadership of the State of Qatar has exerted significant efforts in development and humanitarian aid sectors in order to serve the Palestinian people in a sustainable manner.
“We support the pivotal role played by UNRWA and we are confident that UNRWA will use these resources in the optimally”, stated the Qatari representative.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA program budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 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.