The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands has informed the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Near East (UNRWA) of its decision to resume funding to the Agency, after having temporarily suspended a planned contribution of EUR 13 million, on 31 July, as a result of an investigation by the Office of Internal Oversight Services into management-related issues at UNRWA.
“We welcome the decision by the Netherlands to unlock funds that will help UNRWA at an exceptionally challenging period of its existence”, said Mr. Marc Lassouaoui, Chief of Donor Relations, UNRWA Department of External Relations and Communications. “The amount that we will receive will help the Agency continue to provide critical humanitarian services and operations for the remainder of 2019 in the areas of primary healthcare, education and social services across its five fields of operations” he added.
This decision, which follows disbursements by a number of donors, comes at a time when funds are much needed for the continuation of UNRWA services, and was made in response to measures the Agency committed to implement to improve its management.
The multiyear agreement covers the period 2019-2021 and foresees a non-earmarked annual contribution of EUR 13 million to support the Agency’s programme budget. The Netherlands are also generously adding EUR 6 million for 2019, bringing the total amount of Dutch funding to the UNRWA core budget in 2019 to EUR 19 million.
“We are grateful for the long standing and steady support of the Netherlands to UNRWA, including in the role it plays as an active and engaged member of the Agency’s Advisory Commission. This latest decision is a most welcomed demonstration of renewed confidence in the Agency and its services supporting 5.5 million Palestine refugees in the Middle East,” said Mr. Lassouaoui.
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 5.4 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. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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