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EU largest donor to UNRWA, says official

March 5, 2019 at 5:24 am

Palestinian men carry food aid given by UNRWA in Gaza City, Gaza on 15 January 2018 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Many countries have increased their donations to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) following the United States (US) decision to halt its aid to the organisation, the agency’s spokesperson, Sami Mshasha, said yesterday.

“The European Union (EU) member states have increased their financial contributions to UNRWA, becoming the agency’s largest donor,” Mshasha added.

He called for forming what he described as “a financial safety network” to achieve multi-year financial and programme stability.

Hailing last year’s $200 million contribution from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the UN official stressed on the necessity of “maintaining and strengthening UNRWA’s partnerships with the Arab countries.”

READ: EU offers $93m in funds to UNRWA

“The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)’s recent decision to establish a Waqf endowment fund was an unprecedented achievement and a major milestone in the efforts to diversify funding sources in support of UNRWA.” Mshasha noted. On Saturday, OIC agreed to establish and operationalize a Waqf endowment fund to support Palestinian refugees.

During the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers meeting, Mshasha noted, Afghanistan, which has been suffering from wars and national poverty, paid $1 million to UNRWA in donations.

Last week, the EU pledged €82 million (about $93 million) “to support the human development work of UNRWA for this year.” “The new contribution will help preserve access to education for 532,000 children, provide primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients and assistance to over 250,000 acutely vulnerable Palestine refugees, as well as a multitude of other services, at a time of extreme instability across the Middle East region,” the UN agency explained in a statement.

For over four decades, the European Union has established itself as a key strategic partner for the Agency, supporting UNRWA in its efforts to help Palestine refugees achieve their full potential in human development despite their difficult circumstances.

On 23 February, Japan also disbursed $23 million to UNRWA to support its work for 2019.

READ: Humanitarian aid and strategic interests … for the EU