The European Union (EU) renewed its commitment to supporting the work carried out by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), with a EUR 12.6 million contribution targeting Palestinian refugees from Syria in Jordan.
It comes as part of a larger EUR 43.2 million contribution to the Agency’s emergency operations aimed at “Strengthening the Resilience of Palestinian Refugees in Jordan and Lebanon”, in 2020 through 2021, and tailored also to support Palestinian refugees coping with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU increased the initial allocation for 2020-21 with additional EUR 7.2 million in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
This new funding, from the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis (the EU MADAD Fund), will enable UNRWA Jordan field emergency operations to provide continued services to some 17,500 Palestinian refugees from Syria in Jordan. It includes regular unconditional cash assistance for families to cover their essential food and non-food item needs, as well as conditional emergency cash support to Palestinian refugees from Syria for unforeseen emergencies, enabling them to cope with their difficult economic situation in a safe way.
With the new funding, the EU continues to be a strategic and predictable partner to UNRWA, recognizing the vital work carried out by the Agency in meeting the basic needs of Palestinian refugees in the region.
“This additional assistance from the EU Trust Fund comes at the right time to support the efforts of UNWRA in addressing emergency operations for Palestinian Refugees from Syria in Jordan, following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular through support to livelihood and protection services,” stressed the EU Ambassador to Jordan, H.E. Maria Hadjitheodosiou. “This assistance underlines, once more, that the European Union and its Member States are the largest contributors and most reliable supporters of UNWRA, an essential provider of vital services to millions of Palestine refugees in the region.”
Director of UNRWA Affairs in Jordan, Mr. Mohammed Adar expressed his appreciation to the EU for its continuous support to UNRWA saying: “On behalf of the Agency, I would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the longstanding partnership with the European Union. This generous contribution will help UNRWA to ensure that Palestine refugees from Syria are able to meet their basic needs and mitigate further deterioration in their humanitarian conditions. It is more important than ever, under this uncertain environment due to the COVID-19 crisis, that we must work hand-in-hand to help the vulnerable Palestine refugees overcome major livelihood and economic challenges that they face every day,” he reiterated.
The EU and UNRWA will provide additional cash assistance to all Palestinian refugees from Syria in Jordan, impacted by the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to cash assistance, Palestinian refugees from Syria will benefit from increased protection standards and activities sustained under this EU contribution; these services will particularly address legal documentation issues, gender-based violence and child-specific vulnerabilities, among others.
The provision of this comprehensive emergency assistance will be complemented by the strengthening of the Agency’s operational capacity and management support. It will also bolster and sustain the work carried out by frontline staff dedicated to supporting Palestinian refugees from Syria in Jordan.
Over the past five decades, the partnership between the European Union and UNRWA has evolved, with the EU and its Member States becoming the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees, representing more than half of UNRWA’s overall budget since 2019, and a key strategic partner committed to supporting UNRWA in the absence of a just and durable solution to the plight of Palestine refugees.
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 5.6 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.
Since 1971, the European Union and UNRWA have maintained a strategic partnership governed by the shared objective to support the human development, humanitarian and protection needs of Palestine refugees and promote stability in the Middle East.
Today, the European Union is the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees.
This reliable and predictable support from the European Union enables UNRWA to provide core services to more than 5.6 million Palestine refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, including quality education for roughly half a million children and primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients. Collectively, the EU and its Member States are also among the largest contributors to the Agency’s humanitarian emergency appeals and projects in response to various crises and specific needs across the region.
The partnership between the European Union and UNRWA has allowed millions of Palestine refugees to be better educated, live healthier lives, access employment opportunities and improve their living conditions, thus contributing to the development of the entire region.
Since its establishment in December 2014, a significant share of the EU’s non-humanitarian aid for Syria’s neighbouring countries is provided through the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the EU ‘Madad’ Fund.
The Trust Fund brings a more coherent and integrated EU aid response to the crisis and primarily addresses economic, educational, protection, social, and health needs of refugees from Syria in neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, and supports overstretched local communities and their administrations.