The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has responded to the Syria Appeal of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) with a generous donation of US$ 10 million, through its Saudi Fund for Development.
The ongoing conflict in Syria is increasingly encroaching on UNRWA camps, and the Agency estimates that over half of the 529,000 Palestine refugees in Syria are now displaced, either within Syria or to neighbouring countries, including Lebanon and Jordan . The Saudi contribution will support UNRWA efforts to continue delivering food and cash assistance, as well as emergency relief, health and education services to the Palestine refugee population.
Welcoming the donation, UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi said: “With the areas of Syria where most Palestinians live seeing intensified fighting, the number of Palestine refugees displaced and destitute is growing by the day. Once again, Saudi Arabia has demonstrated its commitment to mitigating the suffering of Palestine refugees.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the major UNRWA donors. As the Agency’s foremost Arab partner, Saudi Arabia has provided consistent support to the Agency’s work in health, education, and relief and social services. It has also contributed to the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared refugee camp, in Lebanon , and to a flagship project to rehouse Palestine refugees in Rafah, Gaza . Phase I of that project was inaugurated in February 2013.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some five million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency’s General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 54.3 million.