26.02.2014 – Press release

Federal Council approves a contribution of CHF 33.7 million to UNRWA

At its meeting on 26 February 2014, the Federal Council approved a contribution of CHF 33.7 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This contribution covers the period 2014–2015. Through its humanitarian and development aid for millions of refugees, UNRWA plays a key stabilising role in the region.

Switzerland's contribution is intended to support UNRWA activities, including the provision of quality education for half a million Palestinian refugee children and access to health care for almost three million beneficiaries per year. The Swiss contribution will also help UNRWA continue its work to support Palestinian refugees affected by the Syrian conflict and other crises in the region. Since the conflict in Syria began in March 2011, UNRWA has provided humanitarian aid to half a million refugees in Syria and neighbouring countries.

UNRWA has been one of Switzerland's strategic partners in the Middle East since the agency was founded in 1949. Swiss national Pierre Krähenbühl, previously director of operations of the International Committee of the Red Cross, was appointed commissioner-general of UNRWA in November 2013 and will take up his post in March 2014.

Set up by the UN General Assembly in 1949, UNRWA's mission is to implement aid and development programmes for Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. In total, UNRWA assists almost 5 million refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, providing them with basic services, in particular in the areas of health, social services, education, microfinance and emergency aid. UNRWA plays a key stabilising role across the entire Middle East region.