The Government of Italy, through the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), has contributed EUR 2.25 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in support of the Agency’s emergency operations in response to the ongoing Syria crisis.
During 2016, the conflict in Syria continued with intensity and unpredictability, resulting in further loss of civilian life and material destruction. Of the estimated 450,000 Palestine refugees who remain inside Syria, over 95 per cent (430,000) are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance to survive. Over 120,000 Palestine refugees from Syria (PRS) have fled the country, including around 31,000 to Lebanon and 16,000 to Jordan – many PRS in Lebanon and Jordan have been pushed into a precarious and marginalized existence due to their uncertain legal status and face limited social protection, making them heavily reliant on UNRWA for their basic needs.
Within this context, the latest contribution from Italy will go towards addressing the needs of Palestine refugees who have been affected by the conflict. Of the total contribution, EUR 1.5 million will ensure the continued delivery of critical education and health-care services to some 56,300 Palestine refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, the majority of whom are Palestine refugees from Syria. The remaining EUR 750,000 will provide food assistance for more than 45,000 Palestine refugees in Syria and support education services for roughly 25,000 Palestine refugee school children enrolled in 101 UNRWA-run schools still operating in the country.
“We are truly grateful to the government and people of Italy for this generous contribution, which will have a significant impact on Palestine refugees whose lives have been heavily affected by the ongoing conflict,” said John Griffith, Officer-in-Charge of UNRWA Affairs in Syria. “With this tragic crisis approaching its seventh year, we continue to rely on the support of our donors and partners to answer the critical needs of Palestine refugees in Syria and throughout the region.”
Italy has long been one of the Agency’s most reliable donors. In 2016, Italy contributed EUR 10.35 million (US$ 11.39 million) to UNRWA, including EUR 6.6 million (US$ 7.37 million) for the Agency’s core programmes and services.
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.
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