European Union proposes additional €40 million of funding for UNRWA

In order to keep operating until the end of the year, the organization said it has to fill a gap of $185 million.

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September 28, 2018 10:43
2 minute read.
European Union proposes additional €40 million of funding for UNRWA

Palestinian schoolgirls queue at an UNRWA-run school, on the first day of a new school year, in Gaza City August 29, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)

 
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The European Union proposed an additional €40 million for Palestine Refugees in a ministerial meeting of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on the sideline of the UN General Assembly on Thursday night.

The funds are intended to allow the agency to keep providing access to education for 500,000 Palestine refugee children, primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients and assistance to over 250,000 vulnerable Palestine refugees, according to a press release of the European comission.

Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini said commented that "Today we reaffirm the EU's political and financial support to UNRWA, with an overall contribution from the EU and its Member States of €1.2 billion for the past three years.

"UNRWA is essential for the perspective of a two-state solution. Supporting the agency means supporting peace and security in the Middle East. And this is in our strategic interest."

Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides added that “Our additional humanitarian assistance will help UNRWA respond to health needs which have increased significantly over the past six months in Gaza.

"This will strengthen the healthcare system and help UNRWA-run primary healthcare centres in Gaza meet increased demands. We remain committed to assisting the most vulnerable people in Gaza and to strengthening the resilience of the most affected communities.”

Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, who was also present at the meeting, reaffirmed that “Keeping schools open for Palestine refugees is a key priority for all of us.


"With this additional funding we reaffirm the European Union's clear and firm commitment to UNRWA and Palestine refugees. This is an exceptional response to an exceptional crisis. UNRWA needs now to focus on core services to the most vulnerable and to urgently align its activities to available funding. We stand ready to help UNRWA and to work with host governments to manage the process."

The announcement comes after an official UNRWA statement on Monday that Palestinian schools and health centers might soon have to shut down due to a lack in funding.

In order to keep operating until the end of the year, the organization said it has to fill a gap of $185 million. "Right now we still have money in the bank", UNRWA's General Commissioner in New York Pierre Krähenbühl commented then.

UNRWA schools opened in mid-August despite a deficit cause by US funding cuts. Half a million students returned to the 711 establishments.

In January 2018, the US US administration decided to suspend more than half of UNRWA's annual funding - $65 million out of $125 million – leading to financial difficulties within the organizations.

On August 31, the Trump administration announced that it would cut all funding to UNRWA, questioning the organization's "fundamental business model" of servicing an "endlessly and exponentially expanding community" of declared Palestinian refugees.

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