The German government and The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), signed deals totaling €28 million, UNRWA announced on its website on Thursday.
The deals were made through the German KfW Development Bank, an investment bank which, according to the bank’s website, “cooperates closely with EU institutions on behalf of the German Federal Government” and supports development programs all over the world.
“The German government will continue to support Palestine Refugees throughout the region,” said the Head of the Representative Office of the Federal Republic of Germany in Ramallah, Oliver Owcza. "The new agreements will make a substantial contribution to improving living conditions in Palestine Refugee camps. They will enable UNRWA to invest in camp infrastructure and modernize its service provision system. This will make UNRWA’s services more efficient and accessible for Palestine Refugees.”
One of the agreements, which alone allocates €12 million to the UN agency, is earmarked for the continuation of a program that aims to digitalize elements of UNRWA’s Health and Education services in Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon.
The Digital Transformation in Health and Education program is set to enter its second phase of implementation.
The other two agreements that have been signed by UNRWA and the German government, which together account for the remaining €16 million euros allocated, are destined for a program intended to “improve infrastructure in Palestine Refugee camps in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, supporting the construction, extension and rehabilitation of social, economic, and environmental infrastructure.”
“I am very grateful to Germany for these new agreements that will help improve the living conditions of Palestine Refugees across the region and will allow UNRWA to make crucial infrastructure investments,” said the UNRWA Director of External Relations and Communications, Tamara Alrifai. “In addition, the new phase of the digitalization program will help UNRWA implement its digital transformation strategy in the areas of health and education.”
UNRWA faced with international criticism
UNRWA has been the topic of controversy many times in the past. In addition to being the only UN refugee agency dedicated specifically to refugees of a specific nationality, it has been criticized numerous times for connections to a radical militant Islamist agenda.
Criticisms of the UN agency has varied from issues such as its inclusion of violent and antisemitic ideologies in its textbooks to its continued classification of the descendants of refugees as refugees themselves and UNRWA schools being used to store and fire rockets at Israel.