Donors urged to meet critical funding shortfall faced by UN agency assisting Palestinian refugees

UNRWA temporary collective shelters house some of the most vulnerable Palestine refugee groups, including single women, children, the elderly and the disabled. Photo: UNRWA/Taghrid Mohammad

4 August 2015 – Voicing concern over the financial situation confronting the United Nations agency assisting Palestine refugees, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on all donors to urgently ensure adequate and sustainable financing for vital services as soon as possible.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is facing what it has described as its “most severe financial crisis ever.” Presently, it requires $100 million to begin the 2015-2016 academic year in some 700 schools for half a million students across the Middle East.

A special report from the UNRWA Commissioner-General to the Secretary-General and the General Assembly sets out the implications of the Agency’s $100 million deficit for 2015, the measures it has taken to reduce costs, and the efforts to seek the necessary funds. It also outlines urgent steps that could be taken to put UNRWA on a firm financial footing going forward.

Mr. Ban, in a statement issued by his spokesperson, expressed his deep concern over the financial situation confronting UNRWA and the humanitarian, political and security consequences that will result if adequate and sustainable financing for 2015 and beyond is not made available immediately.

“The Secretary General emphasises that at a time when crises and human suffering are growing throughout the Middle East, it is imperative that UNRWA, a pillar of stability for a registered population of some 5 million Palestine refugees, is provided with the resources necessary to enable it to continue providing services including education for half a million Palestine refugee children,” said the statement.

Mr. Ban, who has personally spoken to several world leaders in the past few weeks on this topic, called on all donors “to urgently ensure that the $100 million required be contributed to UNRWA at the earliest possible date so that the children of Palestine can begin their 2015-2016 school year without delay.”

UNRWA, which began its operations in 1950, provides assistance and protection for some 5 million registered Palestine refugees in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip,

Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. As things currently stand, the Agency said it has enough money to maintain its services to protect public health, which includes immunizations for children, primary health care, relief and sanitation and some emergency programmes through to the end of 2015.

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