The EU has contributed €82m to the 2018 operating budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the near East (UNRWA).
The announcement was made during a conference between European Commission Vice-President Federica Mogherini and the UNRWA’s Commissioner General, Pierre Krähenbühl in Rome, Italy. The conference sought to address a number of concerns with the agency and how these are impacting on Palestine refugees.
In particular, the meeting aimed to address a funding crisis that the agency is facing, and the EU’s offer of funding is subject to a number of reforms that the agency needs. The partnership between the EU and the UNRWA to support Palestine refugees dates back to 1971, and is founded on a commitment to humanitarian aid and development in Palestine.
How has the EU supported the UNRWA?
In 2016, the EU and its member states provided a total of €424m to UNRWA, followed by a further €391m in 2017. Alongside the newly announced additional funding commitment, these contributions make the EU the largest regular donor to the UNRWA.
The €82m donation has been made available through an accelerated procedure to address the agency’s imminent budget crisis. It will provide access to education for 500,000 children, assistance for over 250,000 of the most vulnerable refugees, and the provision of primary health care for more than 3.5m patients.
What did Commissioner Mogherini say?
Following the conference, Mogherini said that it was incumbent upon the EU to assist the UNWRA and support its work to aid Palestine refugees at a time when the agency is facing budgetary challenges.
She said: “Millions of people – men, women and children – depend on UNRWA for vital services: education, healthcare and social services, humanitarian assistance and employment. Supporting UNRWA is a humanitarian and political duty. It is in our collective interest of building peace and security in the Middle East and for the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution.”