25 July 2022
The Government of Italy increased its contribution to the core budget of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in 2022 with a disbursement of EUR 7 million. This support will allow the Agency to continue delivering vital services, such as education to over 500,000 girls and boys.
Following this contribution, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini met with the Director General for Development Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Fabio Cassese, and the Director of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, Luca Maestripieri, in Ramallah. At this time, the Commissioner-General highlighted the vital support donors such as Italy play to enable the Agency to deliver essential services to Palestine refugees.
“At a time when the Agency is calling for additional support and sustainable, flexible funding, donors like Italy have stepped up to heed our call. Thank you for this generous support, it will provide services to millions of Palestine refugees across the region,” said Commissioner-General Lazzarini.
“Our latest financial contributions reflect Italy’s unwavering commitment to support UNRWA in delivering essential services to Palestinian refugees across the Middle East,” said Fabio Cassese, Director General for Development Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. “In an international context dominated by rising insecurity, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, we see our support to UNRWA as an essential investment to preserve regional stability by providing a much-needed glimmer of hope for the community of Palestinian refugees”.
In addition, the Government of Italy has also recently contributed EUR 2 million to UNRWA to support Palestine refugees in Gaza with emergency food assistance. Director General Cassese has also confirmed the availability of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to approve further contributions to UNRWA by the end of the year.
The Agency currently provides over one million Palestine refugees in the blockaded Gaza Strip with food aid. UNRWA estimates that some 80 per cent of Gazans - a majority of whom are refugees - are facing extreme food insecurity and depend on aid to survive.
“The war in Ukraine, with its impact on food and energy prices, makes food assistance provided by UNRWA even more crucial, especially in the fields of operation more affected by poverty and social distress. This is the case of the Gaza Strip, whose population has yet to recover from the consequences of the conflict of May 2021,” said Luca Maestripieri, Director of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation. “Palestinian refugees continue to be among the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in the region. Italy will continue to rely on UNRWA to address their most urgent needs also in terms of health, education, and social protection”.
Access to food in Gaza remains a challenge for the majority of Palestine refugees, who are struggling with deteriorating socio-economic conditions. UNRWA considers food assistance a vital element for social safety and stability for Palestine refugees living in Gaza. This assistance provides food security amid widespread poverty and instability.
“UNRWA is deeply grateful for the committed support from the Government of Italy to the Agency. With a generous contribution of EUR 2 million, Italy continues to demonstrate its strong commitment to the vital food assistance provided by UNRWA to Palestine refugees in Gaza. Ensuring adequate funding for this key emergency intervention is a priority for the Agency, at a time when support is needed most,” said Thomas White, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza. Italy is a reliable partner of UNRWA and has been an active and supportive member of the Agency. In 2021, Italy was the 16th largest donor to the Agency, with a total contribution of some EUR 13.2 million.
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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 5.7 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.