The European Union has disbursed an essential payment of €92 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, Josep Borrell, said: “We remain determined to support UNRWA both politically and financially, including by providing long term reliability. The Agency plays an essential role in providing vital services to millions of Palestine refugees and stabilising the region.
Our support to UNRWA is not only a humanitarian duty; it also helps to keep alive the prospects of sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians. UNRWA’s services remain key to contribute to a viable negotiated two-State solution, including a fair, agreed and realistic solution to the refugee issue.”
EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, said: “The EU is reliable and predictable partner, and a top donor of UNRWA. UNRWA plays a stabilising role in the region. It must continue to do so, with a clear focus on its core mandate. We will leave no issue off the table in finding innovative approaches to find a sustainable financing model.
Others need to step up and join the EU and EU Member states in providing predictable multiannual funding. We will continue to work with UNRWA to strengthen the Agency’s governance systems and help step up transparency and sound management. We remain also firmly committed to promote quality education for Palestinian children and ensure full compliance with UNESCO standards in education material.”
This funding constitutes the annual EU financial assistance to UNRWA and will contribute to maintaining basic living conditions and support the human development of Palestinian refugees by ensuring the continuity of essential services in the framework of its programme budget (€90 million) and by supporting UNRWA reforms (€2 million).
Since 1971, the strategic partnership between the European Union and UNRWA has been based on the shared objective of supporting the human development, humanitarian and protection needs of Palestinian refugees and to promoting stability in the Middle East.
In June 2017, the EU and UNRWA signed a “2017-2020 Joint Declaration”, strengthening the political nature of their partnership and reaffirming the European Union’s commitment to promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees.
The Declaration also confirmed the EU’s support for the long-term financial stability of the Agency in a context of intensified budgetary constraints and operational challenges.
UNRWA is experiencing significant challenges in fulfilling its mandate due to recurrent financial shortfalls.
There is an urgent need for UNRWA to reform and to identify innovative ways to maintain the provision of services to the refugees.
The Commissions supports UNRWA in taking forward these needed deep reforms.
This is why €2 million (out of today’s €92 million Contribution) has been earmarked for the implementation of a pilot action to improve the efficiency and quality of solid waste management in and around one refugee camp in the West Bank, to develop synergies and complementarities with the efforts of the Palestinian Authority.