A performance assessment of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) commissioned by some of the world’s top donors has found that the Agency is “competent, resilient and resolute”, with an overall rating of “highly satisfactory” in four of the 11 areas of the assessment. UNRWA engagement in the region is considered highly relevant as it delivers critical support for the Palestine refugee population, to the host authorities and to the wider development processes of the region.
The Multilateral Organisation Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN) comprises 18 countries that share a common interest in assessing the effectiveness of the major multilateral organisations they fund. These include United Nations agencies, international financial institutions and global funds. The network that generates, collects, analyses and presents relevant and credible information on effectiveness and performance has just released its second assessment report of UNRWA. In 2017-18, MOPAN assessed 14 organisations, including UNRWA.
The assessment commended UNRWA for its strong management, robust and resilient organizational architecture, strategic vision and effective programme delivery, as well as the capacity and commitment of its workforce and its strategic approach to resource mobilisation. It also affirmed the strength of the Agency’s approach to results, risk and financial management, concluding that UNRWA is uniquely well-placed to ensure that the humanitarian, human development and protection needs of Palestine refugees are met.
“We are very grateful for the opportunity that the MOPAN review gives us to look critically and constructively at our performance”, said UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl. “The very positive findings of this report reflect the immense commitment of the Agency towards the full implementation of its mandate, as defined and approved by the United Nations General Assembly.”
The assessment also identified a number of areas for improvement, including the need for an explicit policy on environmental sustainability and climate change, for strategic evaluations and for an approach to protection that is suited to the difficult financial realities faced.
UNRWA is primarily funded from voluntary contributions. In 2018, when it faced the biggest financial challenge of its existence, it responded by intensifying its fundraising efforts and implementing extensive internal cost saving and austerity measures. Progress achieved on these fronts allowed operations to be largely maintained, although not without detriment to some services.
“We aim at maintaining the same level of expenditures as in 2018 and call on our donors to renew their contributions at the same level as last year. This is the only way we at UNRWA can ensure the continuation of our services to 5.4 million Palestine refugees in 2019,” said Mr. Krähenbühl.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.