ITALY CONTRIBUTES EUR 1 MILLION TO SUPPORT UNRWA OPERATIONS AND INTERVENTIONS IN THE GAZA STRIP
5 January 2017
In response to the 2016 Emergency Appeal for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), the Government of Italy has donated EUR 1 million (US$ 1.087 million) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which will allow UNRWA to provide a decent standard of living and ensure universal access to basic education for Palestine refugees in Gaza.
More than two years after the 2014 hostilities, recurrent conflict and the almost decade-long Israeli blockade on Gaza have resulted in increasing needs among a growing and vulnerable population. Palestine refugees, who make up approximately 70 per cent of the population of Gaza, are increasingly reliant both on UNRWA core services and emergency assistance to meet their basic needs.
The scale of damage and destruction as a result of the 50-day conflict in 2014 undermined many families’ livelihoods and already fragile household resources – particularly those whose homes were severely damaged or completely destroyed. As of June 2016, the UNRWA shelter assessment confirmed that 142,071 Palestine refugee houses were impacted during the conflict, of which 9,117 were completely destroyed and over 5,000 were severely damaged. Within this context, the funds will support UNRWA shelter interventions in Gaza, where approximately 2,330 Palestine refugee families will receive transitional shelter cash assistance (TSCA) for one month.
In addition, the funding will also support 75 educational staff over six months in delivering quality primary education to more than 1,900 Palestine refugee students at Al-Maghazi Preparatory Girls A and B School in Maghazi refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Over the past 65 years, UNRWA has run one of the largest and most successful school systems in the Middle East, despite the deterioration of the situation in the Gaza Strip.
“This contribution from Italy will enable UNRWA to support dignified temporary shelter options for more than 2,000 Palestine refugee families in Gaza. This is especially important now that winter – which comes with heavy rains, cold temperatures and periodic flooding – is just around the corner. It will also support the provision of quality education to Palestine refugees, an achievement that Palestine refugees in Gaza are particularly proud of,” said Bo Schack, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza.
Italy has long been one of the Agency’s most reliable donors. In 2016, Italy contributed EUR 10.35 million (US$ 11.39 million) to UNRWA, including EUR 6.6 million (US$ 7.37 million) for the Agency’s core programmes and services.
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 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.
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