Palestinian refugee children live in squalid conditions in refugees camps set up across the Middle East. Photo via: AlWaght
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced a contribution of AED 95 million (approximately US$ 25 million) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
UNRWA said in a statement that this contribution constitutes the second and final payment of the UAE’s overall commitment for 2019 in the amount of AED 184 million (approximately US$ 50 million) in support of Palestine refugees.
The donation is the fulfillment of the UAE pledge for this year to help the Agency deliver vital health and education, as well as life-saving humanitarian aid services, for Palestine refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The fulfillment of the pledge comes at a critical time for the Agency, which is seeking to overcome a significant funding shortage at the end of the year.
“The United Arab Emirates is one of early advocates of support for UNRWA based on its belief in the role the Agency plays in enhancing the lives of Palestine refugees. In particular, we hope to sustain the Agency’s role in protecting the right to education for generations of refugees who aspire to a bright future is,” said Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sultan Al-Shamesi.
Al-Shamesi confirmed that the current payment fulfilled the pledge that the UAE had made to endure the continuity of UNRWA services for 2019. He added that the UAE will continue to support just causes, including the Palestinian cause, and that it will provide all possible support to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people.
In response to the fulfillment of this pledge, the Acting Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Christian Saunders, said, “The state of the UAE has been amongst the strongest supporters of Palestine refugees since its establishment in 1972, especially through its regular humanitarian contribution to UNRWA.”
With this latest contribution, the total amount that the UAE has provided to the Agency between 2014 and 2019 exceeds US$203 million. Eighty percent of this support, or US$ 164 million, has gone to facilitate the delivery of education for Palestine refugees and is in line with the country’s development policy that prioritizes education.
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.