The Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) has pledged $25 million as part of a funding agreement with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The Gulf state made two multimillion-dollar pledges as the agency continues to face severe financial difficulties, which threaten much-needed services for millions of Palestinians across the region.
UNRWA's Commissioner-General, Phillipe Lazzarini, arrived in Doha on Monday for high-level meetings to discuss funding for the body which provides education, healthcare, and other essential services to over 5 million registered Palestinian refugees.
"The funding for the organisation has not increased in nearly 10 years," warned Lazzarini. He added that UNRWA has been the "only lifeline" for the refugees, who face worsening conditions in many of the refugee camps.
The first agreement amounts to $18 million and will be used to support UNRWA's core resources to improve its role in protecting the rights of Palestinian refugees. The second agreement will see $7 million allocated for some 355,980 Palestinian refugees in Syria to receive essential services.
According to Doha News, an additional $4 million in emergency cash will also be provided to 52,000 Palestinian refugees affected by the ongoing conflict in parts of Syria for a period of 12 months. In a press release issued by UNRWA, the situation in Syria is described as presenting "immense challenges for Palestine refugees" who face deteriorating living conditions with increasing levels of poverty, food insecurity, and fuel shortages.
In 2018, Qatar became the first Arab country to sign a multi-year agreement with UNRWA. The first agreement covered the agency throughout 2019 and 2020.