The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has just disbursed a contribution of US$ 12.5 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This extraordinary financial contribution 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 operation. This is the second contribution by the UAE to the Agency this year and is one of four disbursements totaling US $ 50 million.
“This generous donation could not have come at a more important time for the Agency and for Palestine refugees,” said UNRWA Acting Commissioner-General Mr. Christian Saunders. “UNRWA is doing all it can to overcome the worst financial crisis in its 70 year history and the UAE’s disbursement of funding is a most welcome demonstration of confidence in the organization and its management.”
The UAE announced its pledge of US$ 50 million in July, matching the extraordinary contribution made by the Gulf country to the UNRWA programme budget in 2018. Additional disbursements are expected before the end of 2019, making the UAE a top donor to the Agency for the second year in a row. In 2018, the UAE was the 6th largest contributor to UNRWA.
The Acting Commissioner-General expressed his deep appreciation on behalf of the 5.5 million Palestine refugees served by UNRWA. “The message to Palestine refugees from the UAE leadership and people today is one of reassurance and a renewal of their historic commitment,” said Mr. Saunders. “I am hopeful that this strong demonstration of trust in UNRWA will encourage others to support the crucial work of the Agency,” said Mr. Saunders.
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.