The Government of Switzerland has contributed an additional CHF 3 million (approximately USD 3.2 million) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This funding will support UNRWA's regular programme to Palestine refugees living in the occupied Palestinian territory, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The critical year-end contribution to UNRWA's General Fund follows a contribution of CHF 11 million (approximately USD 11.8 million) earlier this year.
Accepting the support from Switzerland, UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi said: "This is a clear example of Switzerland's commitment to Palestine refugees. This donation is timely given the Agency's tight financial situation and will ensure the continued delivery of regular services to refugees."
In his recent statement to UNRWA's Advisory Commission, the SDC Director of Cooperation for West Bank and Gaza Giancarlo de Picciotto said: "The Agency more than ever requires adequate funds to fulfil the mandate conferred on it by the United Nations.
"This support from the Government of Switzerland will help to ensure continuity of services, and assist Palestine refugees in fulfilling their full potential.
"It will also secure Switzerland's substantial investments in UNRWA reforms, particularly in the field of education and vocational training," he added.
Switzerland has been a strong supporter of UNRWA's work for Palestine refugees and an Advisory Commission member since 1949. In the last five years, the Government has contributed nearly USD 94 million towards Agency programmes across all five fields.
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 5 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, microfinance and emergency assistance.
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, supporting UNRWA's core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit.