EU gives €55.4m. to UN Palestinian refugee agency

UNRWA: EU's contribution "largest single donation to UNRWA"; money to finance education, health and social services.

Palestinian girl at UNRWA school 311 Reu (photo credit: Ali Hashisho / Reuters)
Palestinian girl at UNRWA school 311 Reu
(photo credit: Ali Hashisho / Reuters)
The European Union agreed to transfer 55.4 million euros (NIS 272m.) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) on Wednesday.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton signed the agreement while on a visit in the Gaza Strip.
According to a statement published on the UNRWA website, the money will finance the agency’s General Fund, which supports education, health and social services, and will be invested in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
The latest EU contribution is the “largest single donation to UNRWA’s core budget,” according to the agency statement.
Ashton said the EU’s “continued support to UNRWA is an essential element of the EU strategy to bring peace and stability to the region.”
The UNRWA website also quoted her as saying “the 55.4 million euro contribution we are signing today represents our ongoing commitment to the Palestine refugees.”
Earlier Wednesday, Ashton called for the continuation of talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The current round of talks, the fifth session of which was held today in Amman, “are not formal talks, but at least people are speaking with each other,” she said, adding that talks should not take place only for the sake of talks.
During her visit, Ashton did not meet with any Hamas officials. The EU’s policy is that it will not engage with Hamas until that organization renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel and accepts previous Israeli- Palestinian agreements.
After her short Gaza trip, Ashton is expected to travel to Jerusalem to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.