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Support for Palestine refugees: Germany remains a reliable partner to UNRWA

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East has been ensuring refugees’ survival since 1949. It opens up prospects for the future for young people in particular. Despite this important work, the organisation lacks sufficient funding. How can Germany help?

UNRWA opens up future prospects for young people in the Gaza Strip

The average age in the Gaza Strip is less than 18. That makes it one of the youngest populations in the world. But many children and young people there have limited prospects for the future. Violent conflicts repeatedly shatter their day-to-day life and their dreams – and genuine employment prospects are thin on the ground. This makes it difficult to lead an ordinary and carefree life.

UNRWA organises projects including annual summer camps for young people from the Gaza Strip, where they can spend a few days relaxing and having fun together and gaining a brighter outlook on the future. The summer camps for young people are one of many areas where UNRWA has a positive impact on the lives of Palestine refugees in the Middle East – alongside education, healthcare and not least the provision of food.

More than one tenth of UNRWA’s funding comes from Germany

Given how vital the organisation is for more than 3 million Palestine refugees in host countries in the region, such as Jordan, Germany is UNRWA’s leading bilateral donor after the United States. German funding in 2021 totalled around 150 million euro. Germany also supports other humanitarian bodies – both UN and civil society organisations – in their important work in the region.

At today’s UNRWA donor conference, Germany pledged a further 113 million euro to enable UNRWA to continue its important work in full.

Germany’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Dr Thomas Zahneisen, said at the conference: “Germany will remain a reliable partner to UNRWA and calls on all donors – including those from the region – to continue funding the organisation. Germany also supports new approaches such as the development of partnerships between UNRWA and other UN organisations.”

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What is UNRWA?

UNRWA – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – was established in 1949 with the mandate to protect and care for hundreds of thousands of people who had lost their homes after the 1948 Arab‑Israeli War. The organisation has been helping Palestine refugees ever since: children can attend school, the hungry receive food, the sick receive medical care. UNRWA thus also makes an important contribution to regional stability.

Even though it is doing such important work, UNRWA often lacks the necessary support, both political and financial. In 2018, under President Trump’s Administration, the United States stopped its payments to UNRWA. The huge support provided by the EU and Germany since then, as well as the contributions from the Arab Gulf states in 2018, allowed UNRWA’s indispensable work to continue.

German financial support for UNRWA comes from Federal Foreign Office funds for humanitarian measures, particularly for food assistance, and from Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development funds for infrastructure measures, employment programmes and support for the education and healthcare sectors.