The European Union (EU) has signed an important additional contribution of EUR 9.5 million to the 2017 Programme Budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in response to a call to donors to help close a shortfall that could impact its key services such as education and health-care.
The announcement was made during a meeting on 20 September between UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl and EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. This contribution comes in addition to the disbursement earlier this year of EUR 82 million to the UNRWA Programme Budget.
The new contribution will help preserve access to education for 500,000 children, provide primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients and assistance to over 250,000 acutely vulnerable Palestine refugees.
The UNRWA Commissioner-General expressed his deep appreciation for the EU's trust and support: “I am very grateful for the European Union’s partnership with UNRWA and commitment towards Palestine refugees at this critical time. This generous additional contribution is highly valued and will make a big difference.”
The EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn said: “This substantial additional contribution once again reaffirms the European Union's longstanding commitment to UNRWA and the continuity of its essential work in service of Palestine refugees. The EU calls on other donors for greater solidarity and burden-sharing to ensure that UNRWA receives adequate resources to protect and maintain its core functions. Adequate and predictable funding requires a joint effort. We expect all to engage in this way to enable the Agency to continue its tasks without disruption and deliver on its efficiency reform plans.”
In June of this year, the EU and UNRWA signed the 2017-2020 Joint Declaration, strengthening the political nature of the EU-UNRWA partnership and reaffirming the European Union’s commitment to promoting the rights of Palestine refugees and supporting the long-term financial stability of the Agency in a context of intensified budgetary constraints and operational challenges.