EC to increase support to UNRWA to €237 million
The European commission (EC) will sign a new funding convention this week with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The European Union (EU) will increase its support to UNRWA's general fund to €237 million ($234 million) over the next four years.
Funding under the new convention is intended as contribution towards the financing of UNRWA's regular programs for the benefit of around 3.9 million Palestine refugees in UNRWA's fields of operation in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The overall strategy of UNRWA is to provide basic education, health, and relief and social services.
Commissioner Patten expressed concern at the difficult working situation UNRWA is facing in the West Bank and Gaza. "UNRWA and other humanitarian workers must have easy access to all areas where humanitarian aid is needed. The Commission is particularly concerned that more than twenty humanitarian missions contracted by the EU have been turned back when arriving at Israeli points of entry. I am equally concerned at delays caused to humanitarian organizations by the numerous check-points and the charges levied by Israel for security checks. Israel should immediately allow full, safe and unfettered access for international and humanitarian personnel".
The EU is the biggest contributor to UNRWA's regular budget. Financial support to UNRWA is a key element in the EU's strategy in the Middle East, which is designed to contribute actively to reducing tension and providing a minimum of stability in order to allow the parties to pursue their quest for peace. It also contributes to facilitating access to basic social services, reduction of poverty and an improvement of the refugees' living standard.
Together with members states the EU covers more than half of UNRWA's annual budget. Since 1972 the EC and UNRWA have signed ten funding conventions setting out the contribution to the regular budget. This is in addition to providing food aid, humanitarian assistance and support to infrastructure projects in refugee camps.
In accordance with UNRWA's biennium budget the new Convention shall cover a four-year period and will be implemented by grant agreements with annual budget allocations.
In order to respond to population growth, inflation, and new long-term demands made on UNRWA by the current crisis in the Middle East, particularly in its health program, the EU's contribution over the next four years will be significantly higher than in the past. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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