UNRWA in need $800 million to maintain essential services to refugees: Commissioner-General

NEW YORK/PNN/

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced today it will be seeking $800 million to maintain services to the Palestinian refugees at a donor conference scheduled for November in Brussels.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York that the organization needed “predictability” for its operations.

To fund UNRWA’s “three core activities” — education, health, and social services — “we are seeking $800 million a year,” Lazzarini was quoted as saying by the Paris-based France 24 network.

“The main objective of the conference is to have a better predictability” and to “promote visibility,” the Swiss diplomat said.

The funding would allow the agency to keep open the 700 or so schools it managed, catering to 550,000 children, as well as health centers and to provide social welfare to Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

In addition to the $800 million, Lazzarini said there was also a need for funds for the humanitarian aid provided by UNRWA, which varies from one year to the next, depending on the crisis, but which the agency estimates will be around half a million dollars in 2022.

Lazzarini said his agency was $100 million short to see out this year and warned that it might have to shut down some activities in November and December.

“Today we keep struggling, running after cash,” he said. “I never know as a Commissioner-General week ahead if I would be able to pay the salaries of 28,000 staff.”

UNRWA provides assistance to more than five million Palestinians registered with it in the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Lebanon.

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