Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Pierre Krähenbühl revealed that his agency is facing “the most serious financial crisis since its creation nearly 60 years ago”.
Speaking at a meeting of UNRWA’s Advisory Commission of major donors and host governments in Amman yesterday, Krähenbühl said members had to “take urgent and concerted action to address the underlying political causes of this situation,” noting that the human consequences of inaction were growing exponentially.
“Currently, UNRWA confronts a funding shortfall for core activities – such as schools for half a million children – to cover the year 2015 of $101 million. UNRWA at present could pay salaries and cover activities only into September,” he said.
Adding that with the unprecedented needs faced by Palestinian refugees, contributions are falling far short of demand which means UNRWA would have to implement serious austerity measures in order to reduce costs while preserving core services.
“The isolation, exclusion and dispossession of Palestine refugees in Syria, Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan and Lebanon represent a time-bomb for the Middle East region,” he warned.
On emergency funding to UNRWA, the commissioner-general pointed out that his agency was in a dire situation where funding for UNRWA’s Syria appeal for 2015 stands at only 27 per cent, as a result the Agency has had to scale back the frequency and amount of cash assistance that is distributed to refugees in Syria in situations of extreme vulnerability.
Krähenbühl added: “In Lebanon, Palestine refugees from Syria are not receiving assistance towards housing, gravely affecting families without the means to secure shelter. UNRWA’s Gaza reconstruction appeal for $720 million has received approximately $216 million in pledges.”
He stressed that services in health, sanitation, relief and social services would be guaranteed in 2015, stressing on the urgency of mobilising all the necessary support to close the funding gap to ensure continued education services.