UNRWA Commissioner-General concludes two-day mission to Italy – UNRWA press release


18 May 2016

The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Pierre Krähenbühl, concluded a two-day mission to Italy on Tuesday. Over the course of the visit, he met with senior government officials, parliamentarians, representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local media to deepen ties with Italian institutions and raise awareness about the work of UNRWA and the current situation facing Palestine refugees.

During the Commissioner-General’s visit, the Government of Italy confirmed its commitment to scale up its contribution to UNRWA in 2016 to EUR 10 million, particularly in support of the Agency’s core programmes and services. This presents a 12 per cent increase over the Italian contribution to UNRWA in 2015.

During the mission, Mr. Krähenbühl met with the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ambassador Elisabetta Belloni; the Director-General of International Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Giampaolo Cantini; the Director of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, Laura Frigenti;  the Counsellor of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Attorney Patrizia De Rose; the Diplomatic Counsellor of the Ministry of Health, Luigi Ferrari; the Director-General for Preventative Health Care of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Raniero Gueera; members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and Senate; and the Ambassador of Palestine in Italy, Mai al-Kaila.

During his visit, Mr. Krähenbühl also held a conference at the Institute for International Affairs (IAI) titled, ‘The Plight of Palestine Refugees in an Increasingly Unstable Middle East’, attended by participants from the Italian academic, non-profit and media sectors.

“At a time when widespread instability affects the Middle East and when Italy and the broader European continent are facing a major refugee crisis on its shores, UNRWA’s role as a provider of dignity and vital services to Palestine refugees is as critical as ever,” said the Commissioner-General. “This visit presented us with a welcome opportunity to deepen ties and foster conditions for a continued strategic cooperation between UNRWA and Italy. It is essential that the rights and needs of Palestine refugees throughout the region not be forgotten, and in this context I am very grateful for Italy’s growing support and strong trust.”

Italy has long been one of the Agency’s most reliable donors. In 2015, Italy contributed EUR 8.75 million (US$ 9.56 million) to UNRWA, including EUR 4.1 million (US$ 4.36 million) for the Agency’s core programmes and services. In 2015, the Government of Italy donated EUR 1 million (US$ 1.09 million) in support of the Agency’s humanitarian response to the Yarmouk emergency and EUR 2.18 million (US$ 2. 39 million) for food assistance in Gaza.


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,  projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 81 million. 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 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank 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 .

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness

Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications


+972 (0)54 240 2659


+972 (0)2 589 0267

Sami Mshasha

Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson


+972 (0)54 216 8295


+972 (0)2 589 0724


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