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The European Union donates an additional EUR 10.5 million to UNRWA at a crucial time for Palestine refugees

The European Union (EU) has announced an additional, vital contribution of EUR 10.5 million to the 2017 Programme Budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), in support of education, access to health care, employment opportunities, and improved living conditions for millions of Palestine refugees.

This donation complements nearly five decades of steadfast EU support of Palestine refugees. This year, in particular, the European Union and UNRWA have launched the unique Healthy Living, Healthy Spaces (HLHS) campaign, targeting 50 EU-sponsored UNRWA schools and 15 health centers for repair and rehabilitation across Lebanon, Gaza, West Bank and Jordan fields. Both the HLHS initiative and latest contribution stand as a testament to the strong EU and UNRWA partnership for Palestine refugees.

In recognition of the contribution, Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Commissioner-General, stated: “Giving some half million students in UNRWA schools across the Middle East a sense of dignity and preserving their opportunities is particularly urgent at a time when the spaces in which they can develop and enjoy a normal childhood are shrinking so dramatically. This is particularly important in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in Gaza and in Syria. In these contexts, the support we receive from the EU is of critical significance.”

"With this contribution, the EU support to the regular UNRWA budget in 2017 has reached EUR 102 million. This support allows millions of Palestine refugees to receive access to education, health and other social services. These services are crucial for sustaining hope amid a tough reality," said EU Representative Ralph Tarraf. "In its five fields of operations, UNRWA is contributing to stability in the face of enormous new challenges. The EU will continue to support this effort until a just and agreed-upon solution is found for Palestine refugees. This is an essential element of the EU strategy to maintain peace in the region," he added.

The European Union is the Agency’s largest multi-lateral donor, with an overall yearly contribution amounting to 12.5 per cent of the total programme support. This latest donation brings the EU contributions to EUR 102 million for 2017, including EUR 82 million disbursed earlier in the year and the additional contribution of EUR 9.5 million announced this past September.


Since 1971, the European Union and UNRWA have maintained a strategic partnership governed by the shared objective to support the human development, humanitarian and protection needs of Palestine refugees and promote stability in the Middle East. Today, the European Union is the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees. This reliable and predictable support from the European Union enables UNRWA to provide core services to more than 5 million Palestine refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, including quality education for roughly half a million children and primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients.

Collectively, the EU and its Member States are also among the largest contributors to the Agency’s humanitarian emergency appeals and projects in response to various crises and specific needs across the region. The partnership between the European Union and UNRWA has allowed millions of Palestine refugees to be better educated, live healthier lives, access employment opportunities and improve their living conditions, thus contributing to the development of the entire region.


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 Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267

Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)258 90724