On 17 September 2020, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) signed contribution agreements totaling EUR 53 million from the Federal Republic of Germany through the KfW Development Bank. The agreements will strengthen education and health services in Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, support the Agency’s cash-for-work programme in Lebanon, and improve the living conditions in Palestine refugee camps in Jordan and the Gaza Strip.
“The corona crisis and its socio-economic consequences have increased the pressure on the Palestinian refugees. With our additional financial contribution, we seek to strengthen UNRWA’s health programs and its other basic services. Germany will continue to be a reliable partner for the UN, also and notably in difficult times,” said Mr. Christian Clages, Head of the German Representative Office in Ramallah.
Of the EUR 53 million in German funds, EUR 28 million are allocated to support the provision of education and basic health services, thereby supporting the resilience of the Palestine refugee community affected by conflict, blockade, the COVID-19 pandemic and economic challenges in Lebanon, Jordan and the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.
Furthermore, and building on ongoing German-funded interventions, EUR 10 million will support the improvement of livelihoods of Palestine refugees in Lebanon, who are faced with limited access to the labor market and economic opportunities, by means of job creation, especially in the fields of waste collection and hygiene as well as sustainable solid waste management.
Finally, a EUR 15 million grant will focus on camp improvement projects in Jordan and the Gaza Strip involving the local refugee community, as well as on improving UNRWA services through construction of a new health center and a relief and social services building in Gaza, directly benefiting almost 250,000 refugees in Jordan and Gaza. This project also includes construction of a solar station in Amman, which is expected to provide sustainable renewable energy to 65 per cent of all UNRWA installations in Jordan, thus significantly reducing UNRWA running costs.
“The Federal Republic of Germany has been a steadfast supporter of the well-being of Palestine refugees and a strategic partner to the Agency for many years. The generosity extended once again by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the KfW Development Bank will directly contribute to sustaining UNRWA education and health services and infrastructure, and to improving living conditions through cash-for-work opportunities and addressing the camp development priorities of hundreds of thousands of Palestine refugees across the Middle East,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini.
The Government of Germany was the Agency’s largest donor in 2019 contributing more than EUR 152 million towards UNRWA operations. Including the agreements signed today, Germany has committed thus far in 2020 new funding in the amount of over EUR 161 million. The Agency is deeply grateful for this historic and sustained support, which enables vital frontline services to Palestine refugees across the Middle East.
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 5.6 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. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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